The term “micro-distillery” doesn’t quite get after how tiny Cayce’s Southern Essence Distilling is. The shop is run by the two owners, John and Venetia Sharpe, with no additional help.
But that does little to stop one of the Midlands’ few distilleries from pumping out some of the most unique spirits around. From small-batch honey brandy to peach cordials, they like to experiment. Their latest concoction? A hemp liquor.
They speculate it is one of the region’s first and one of few in the country, with the two citing a hemp vodka in New York and similar distilling efforts being done in the Northwest as other examples.
“Anything out there that can be fermented we’re going to try it,” says John Sharpe. “The moment [hemp] became legal … we started to see what it would taste like.”
Made out of the leftovers of a to-be-released hemp bourbon, the initial resulting liquor flavor was CBD oil-like, the two say. But after a couple of months long rest, it smoothed into a whiskey-like concoction that John says has a “smoky” flavor that rises into the nostrils.
The other spirit, the hemp bourbon, will be ready in roughly two years, the amount of time it must rest in the barrel before being classified as an official bourbon, John details.
The liquor was a somewhat difficult thing to get approved, as Southern Essence had to go through numerous governmental hoops — providing documentation that showed the hemp product had no THC in it and a tricky labeling approval process among them.