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Banjo
11-26-2010, 10:33 AM
Mississippi - State's first legal distillery planned in Madison County

http://www.onlinemadison.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=23097

By STEVEN G. WATSON
Associate Editor

GLUCKSTADT - While it won't be Mississippi's first distillery by any means, the owners of Cathead Vodka, which is already distributed from their headquarters here, plan to be bottling distilled spirits legally in Madison County by early next year.

Besides the illegal stills that have abounded for decades in rural Mississippi, no one has ever produced distilled spirits on the up and up, according to officials.

Madison native Austin Evans and his friend and business partner Richard Patrick set out to change all that when they opened Cathead Vodka earlier this year.

The startup specializes in corn-based vodka which they have already started distributing through the use of an out-of-state distillery.

But they are set to start bottling in Madison County this week and begin distilling locally in January.

It's been an involved process, not only to work out the details of production, but to gain state and federal approval to become a the state's first licensed distillery, they said.

"It took us about three years," Evans said about the legal process. "We've been studying the law books and the people at the ABC (Alcohol, Beverage Control) have been real helpful to us."

Evans and Patrick see these types of small startup distilleries as a new niche in the market and hope they start a trend.

"Although it does take a long, legal process to get up and running, you do see more and more people every day starting up in this industry," Evans said. "There are worse things you could sell."

ABC Director Patsy Holeman said while three other companies produce alcoholic beverages in the state, Cathead Vodka is the first distillery.

She notes the Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company in Kiln that brews Southern Pecan brand beers, The Old South Winery in Natchez that produces muscadine wine and another winery in Louisville.

Holeman said, according to state law, the majority of the contents have to be grown in Mississippi.

The idea for the company was born with the two college friends wanting to go into something different and interesting.

"We have been talking about doing this for four years," Patrick said.

"I always knew that I wanted to come back home and start a business of some sort, simply because Mississippi is so heavily packed with culture, which is why this is a perfect fit," Evans said.

The two say the state's first distillery has been a long time coming and even use it in some of their promotions that read "Cathead Vodka, born in 2010 is Mississippi's 1st distilled spirit. No wonder the blues was born here."