Asheville’s Distilleries and the Women Who Run Them
March 13, 2021
March is designated Women’s History Month with International Woman’s Day on March 8. We celebrate and highlight the achievements of women. In Asheville, two local distilleries have women entrepreneurs at the helm. Read their stories here then plan your visit to Asheville
Troy Ball is a force of nature who opened Asheville Distilling Co., the first legal distillery in North Carolina in 2011. With 2 special needs sons, she uprooted her family from Texas, seeking a climate that better suited the health of her sons. Her encounters with moonshiners in the Blue Ridge Mountains led her on a journey to distilling “white whiskey” made from the mash of local heirloom Crooked Creek Corn.
Moving past moonshine, Troy & Sons Oak Reserve is barrel-aged whiskey. I have a distinct memory from February 2015, ordering an Old Fashioned at Chestnut in downtown Asheville. As a bourbon fan, my first sip of that drink remains an ethereal moment. At the time, little did I know that my path would bring me to purchase Pinecrest Bed & Breakfast in historic Montford just one year later.
More of Troy’s story can be found in her book “Pure Heart: A Spirited Tale of Grace, Grit and Whiskey” published in 2017. Troy & Sons products can be found in craft cocktails in many Asheville restaurants, or in ABC stores throughout North Carolina. Asheville Distilling Co. has a tasting room (temporarily closed due to covid) conveniently located beside Highland Brewing Company so grab a pint….and a sip!
Founder Debbie Ward is distilling gin at The Chemist beside her daughter, Danielle Donaldson, an actual chemist. The brand pays homage to Prohibition-era “chemists” who found creative ways to produce contraband. Their three styles of gin feature botanicals native to the North Carolina highlands. The Chemist frequently collaborates with local purveyors. First up was Bed of Nails Beirbrand with Hi-Wire Brewing. Next came Biltmore Conservatory Rose Gin, aged in Merlot wine barrels.
Located on the south slope, the distillery hosts tours covering distillation, botanicals, and the craft of making gin (temporarily suspended due to covid.) Once you’ve learned the process, step into the tasting room. It resembles an old-time apothecary shop full of essentials for your home bar. And you can buy The Chemist gin by the bottle for a drinkable souvenir.
Ready to imbibe? The “cure for the common cocktail” is right next door at The Antidote. This 1900s style craft cocktail bar has 3 stories. Outside there is a brick courtyard and a rooftop bar complete with a fireplace. Inside boasts private nooks and a balcony for ample seating. Their cocktail menu leans heavily on Chemist gin but includes a full complement of spirits, wine, and beer.
Asheville has a reputation for beer. Instead of suds, sip your way around the city by visiting Asheville Distilling Co. and The Chemist. Moreover, there are 4 other local distilleries to visit: Cultivated Cocktails, Dalton Distillery, Edna Rhyne, and Oak & Grist.
While dining in Asheville, choose one of these spirits on the cocktail menus of local restaurants. The mixologists in town are serious about their beverages and the use of regional products reflects heavily on their choice of liquors.
Pinecrest Bed & Breakfast is ideally located in historic Montford, close to distilleries, breweries, and all downtown Asheville has to offer travelers. The inn offers 5 en-suite rooms, some with fireplaces. Start your day with a hot fresh breakfast. Return from a day of sightseeing to homemade cookies and 24-hour beverages. Innkeepers Dan & Diane are eager to help you craft your adventure.