It’s funny how a conversation amongst friends morphs into an idea and then into reality. Paul Taiganides, CEO of Mill St. Distillery bragged about raki – what he claims is the best stuff made in his favorite Greek village. But raki, also known as Grappa, has a short season of just three months. Paul also lamented the fact that his friends finished off all of his good stuff too quickly. What could complement Grappa and have a longer duration? Well, moonshine, of course.
Welcome to the first legal moonshine producer in Ohio, Mill St. Distillery, located in the heart of Utica, Ohio. The still at this particular distillery is no ordinary still. It was custom-built by D. Picking, the oldest continuously operating coppersmith in the U.S. and based in Bucyrus, Ohio. The artful still is a traditional direct-fire variety and welcomes guests into the showroom.
The Mill St. Distillery resides in an old mill complex. For now, most of the operation takes place in a concrete block building at the rear of the property – it’s easiest to enter from Main St. rather than Mill St. Just watch for the signs.
Carlos Ogden welcomed us to the establishment and gave us a personal tour. He took us through the process and pointed out that they try to use all Ohio-based products like corn and grain delivered from a neighboring farmer. Basically that grain is used to convert starch into sugars and start the fermentation process.
The result is an 80-proof corn whiskey that is currently available in 55 state liquor stores. Last year Mill St. produced 2,500 bottles. Their plan for the distillery is to make it more of a destination. As such, they already have food trucks, like Sophie’s Gourmet Pierogi, taking up residence on weekends.
Make a day of it! Visit the distillery and grab lunch at Mill St. in the morning and then enjoy dessert at the nearby Velvet Ice Cream at Ye Olde Mill. If you can’t make it to Utica, look for Mill St. Distillery products at a state store near you.