Pinetop Distillery, Raleigh’s first Inside-the-Beltline distillery, will open in late May.
The distillery is located in a 1,000-square-foot space inside the large warehouse complex at 1053 E. Whitaker Mill Road. The warehouse is near the Five Points area in between Wake Forest Road and Atlantic Avenue. The former Blackjack Brewing Co. was in the same warehouse but was taken over last year by Lynnwood Grill and Brewing Concern.
The new distillery is the work of four neighbors who bonded over a shared love of whiskey. Jon Keener, Gabe Guillois, Grady Knight and Will Brown are all neighbors in Raleigh’s Wayland Heights neighborhood on the other side of Five Points near Oberlin Road.
Keener said he and Brown made a New Year’s resolution several years ago to make one bottle of their own liquor. “That got that ball rolling,” Keener said.
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Keener said they are producing a moonshine, using all organic grains, based on a bourbon whiskey recipe and utilizing a double distillation process. “It results in a much smoother product,” Keener explained. They are replicating how moonshine was made pre-Prohibition, as opposed to the fast and cheap sugar shine produced during Prohibition, he said.
After the moonshine, they plan to produce gin and barrel-aged moonshine.
The men, none of whom have quit their day jobs, are combining their skills to make the enterprise work. Keener is a mechanical engineer with a master’s degree in business administration. Guillois also has an MBA. Knight is a chemical engineer and Brown is an accountant.
So where did they get the name? Keener explains that pinetop is a slang term for moonshine.