(White) lightning strikes with Hocking Hills Moonshine Distillery
Make moonshine part of your next Hocking Hills Adventure
After decades of volunteering at the New Straitsville Moonshine Festival, the St. Clair boys – Hocking County locals Brian and Eric (brothers) plus Ray (cousin) – wanted to open their own distillery. When state law recently changed to allow micro moonshine distilling, the St. Clairs were ready to act. They opened Hocking Hills Moonshine Distillery in October of 2015 and business has been booming ever since. They sell their shine out of their Logan distillery, where they also offer tours.
The Hocking Hills Tourism Association caught up with Ray St. Clair to learn more.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for content and space.
What was your initiation to moonshine?
Our family has always helped with the (New) Straitsville Moonshine Festival, since 1971.
Do you use an old family recipe?
No, absolutely not. As far as the St. Clairs, they did not make moonshine. My cousin Brian, he hung out around the bootleggers in New Straitsville. He got that recipe – 70 percent sugar, 30 percent corn, spring water and baker’s yeast. That is the original corn whiskey recipe that was made in these hills over 100 years ago.
Why locate in Logan, Ohio – in the Hocking Hills?
I’m the cousin (of Brian and Eric). Our fathers ran the farm, St. Clair Brothers Farm, and it’s five miles out of town. It was actually a dairy farm. Our family was one of the last door-to-door milkmen. Now we use that same spring water to make our moonshine.
How has public reaction been?
So far, great. The city of Logan approached us and asked us if we would move from where we are now to Main St. We’re going to – we need much more space because we have much more business that we can’t keep up with.
You’ve earned some awards?
We entered the Denver International Spirits Competition. We actually won a bronze medal with our 120 proof called Buckeye Lightning. And we won a silver medal with our 90 proof (named The Original Recipe) we’re going to come out with in the near future.
What’s your most popular variety?
We currently have four flavors at 45 proof. We can’t hardly keep it on our shelves. Blackberry, raspberry, granny smith apple – it tastes like a sour green Jolly Rancher. Our flavor that’s our top seller is a sweet peach tea.
How do you recommend drinking it?
You can drink it straight. We mix the sweet peach tea with Monster energy drink which makes it taste like a Long Island iced tea. We call it Short Island Shine.
What do people see on the tour?
We show you around a little bit up front as far as the old stills. We have some old stills that were used during prohibition – donated by the (moonshiners’) family members or the sheriff – then we bring you to the back and show you the bottling area. Then we take you back further and show you were the stills are and our mash barrels and explain the process.
How long does it take to make moonshine?
It takes seven to 14 days. Then you put it in the still and it takes 30 hours still time. All we do is boil it, it makes steam, steam rises through the copper and it condenses it, and that’s your liquor.
What’s the jug head club?
My mom crocheted some moonshine jugs, like the old crock-style moonshine jugs. It’s a hat. We have an old-time display up front (in the distillery). A group of people will get behind it and put those crocheted hats on … then they’re a member of the jug head club.
Where do you source your corn?
From Tractor Supply. The corn we’re using now is Ohio-grown corn. We are working on some deals with local farmers so we can actually get Hocking County corn.
How much moonshine have you produced your first 10 months?
We did 3,000 bottles by hand with a funnel before we got our bottling machine. I think we’re up to 6,000 bottles.
Where can people buy it Hocking Hills Moonshine?
We’re in over 120 state liquor stores now. We’re in all the major cities. We tell people to look for it in their local state store. It is in all the local warehouses so they can order it.
The corn, after the mash, we go home and feed (to) the cattle. The next thing is we’re going to open a restaurant and steakhouse with home-grown beef. Hopefully within the next five years.
Do you still have day jobs?
Everybody but me. Brian and Eric, my two partners and cousins, still have their full-time jobs. My wife works. My mother just retired from 30 years of nursing, so she is now a full-time moonshiner with me!
Hocking Hills Moonshine Distillery
- 519 East Front Street
- Logan, OH 43138
From US 33 in Logan, take State Route 93 (Mulberry St.) north for a half mile. Turn right onto Front Street and go four blocks to the distillery on the right.
- Monday-Wednesday, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
- Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
- Closed Sunday