Alabama isn’t particularly progressive — that much is understood by basically everyone. In a hardcore red state full of backwoods rednecks, the people of Alabama can finally take pride in a small amount of progress: Whiskey can now be distilled everywhere from Mobile to Birmingham.
Even though Prohibition ended in 1933, Alabama’s liquor laws are so twisted and confusing that no one challenged the status quo until John Emerald Distilling Company in Opelika, Alabama, released the first legal whiskey distilled in Alabama in a exactly 100 years.
Jimmy Sharp, son of John and a co-owner of the John Emerald Distilling Company explains: “The way the laws are written, it’s written and it’s written over, and over-written, and over-written . . . it’s real difficult to discern for the average person who doesn’t speak legalese to understand you can [legally distill whiskey in the state].”
Apparently no one in Alabama has spoken this brand of “legalese” for 100 years. It took a sit-down with—and long explanation from—the head of enforcement for the Alcoholic Beverage Control in Alabama to convince the Sharps that they could distill whiskey there.
Jimmy Sharp says, “Initially, we didn’t think we could have it, but actually the head of enforcement for ABC was the guy that told us we could. He actually went and highlighted the laws, and said, ‘Here’s how you do it.’”
Jimmy Sharp is confident that with a little more aging, his product will get better and better. Still, life is good for the first Alabamian distillers in the 21st century. Sharp describes the rollout this summer: “People were buying it before we were trying to sell it, basically, which was good. We were happy with it then, but it will also get a lot better. We sell out of it constantly. The first four cases sold out in 45 minutes. Of course, there was some anticipation with that.”
While it might take a while for Alabama whiskey to catch up to Tennessee and Kentucky, it’s good to see whiskey being made in Alabama again. It might not be any good, but I’ll give it a drink in a show of support for my brothers from Alabama.
Just not on Sundays, of course..
Image via YouTube