DH’s lab day rolled around again this week, and I always try to find something nearby to make the trip less routine. When I heard there was a still back in the hills, I knew what I wanted to do this time. At first, DH thought I had lost it. But since he is a design engineer, he did agree that seeing the process and machinery might be interesting.
My great grandfather was known to run a still in Crawford County, Kansas during Prohibition. During this time, Crawford County was nationally known for stills and moonshine production. Their drink was called Deep Shaft after the coal and lead mines that drew immigrants to the area for work. I wish I could know more about this man and his times. His copper pot was out in the country somewhere, but one family member remembered he often cooked at home later. Said you could smell the sour mash when you visited!
So I wanted to visit this modern day still just for fun. Like a Revenuer of the old days, we meandered the hills and hollers between Springfield and Branson. We finally found a sweet little log cabin nestled in a forested area. Two Shepard mix dogs met us with tails wagging. The tour lasted only about fifteen minutes because there isn’t much to brewing. There was the copper boiler for cooking….wooden barrels for storage while whiskey aged (some coming from Stone Hill near Herman, Missouri and others bought new from oak barrel manufacturer in Lebanon, Missouri)….a drill press where they bottled one bottle of white lightning at a time.
The Copper Run distillery of Walnut Shade, Missouri had a nice little tasting room for samples and where they made cocktails that included music on Friday nights. Now we stepped up to the bar for samples just for the heck of it. Even the smidge they put in a shot glass, was too much and we shared. I can’t see how folks can drink that stuff! Moonshine is not tasty to me! Burr…it made me shudder, just the touch I took on my tongue! But I did learn things and found the process interesting. True moonshine is clear as water. When you let it age, it becomes whiskey and you get the amber color. A fact I distorted a bit in a piece of fiction I wrote.
Finding ourselves close to Branson, we went on in to town for lunch and then walked around the Landing a bit. Now DH is NOT a shopper, but I had a couple of places I wanted to hit quickly. One was DEVO, a store of nothing but balsamic vinegars and olive oils. I wanted the oils until I tasted the flavored vinegars! Some had as much kick as moonshine but better tasting to me. I brought home their flavor of the month which was blueberry balsamic and a peach white balsamic vinegar. Yum, I can’t wait to use them.
Then before we left the area, I wanted to check out Hollister, Missouri, a tiny little berg known for its Old English style. Author Janet Dailey and her husband have bought the hotel named Old English Inn and have restored it to its original beauty. The staircase is gorgeous. Rooms are reasonable and the price includes breakfast in the little restaurant that is part of the project.
The day was disappearing and we both tired early. Although weathermen said the day was to be cooler by some, we found the heat strong enough to fatigue us. So home we came with our moonshine trip behind us.
The spring issue of the Oklahoma Review carries one of my still stories. If you are interested in reading, go to the table of contents page (http://www.cameron.edu/okreview/index.html and click Spring 2012 issue) to seek out a short story called DEEP SHAFT.