Business spotlight: Alabama Distillery Co.

Patrick Watson, AKA Kat Daddy, stands in front of his beloved Shine Still, Big Lucy, at the Alabama Distillery Co. (Cheyenne Sharp)
Patrick Watson, AKA Kat Daddy, stands in front of his beloved Shine Still, Big Lucy, at the Alabama Distillery Co. (Cheyenne Sharp)

Updated March 15, 2024, at 7:16 p.m.

GOOD HOPE, Ala. – The Stash House in Good Hope is a bustling food joint with live music and a kicked-back feel. Owner Patrick “Kat Daddy” Watson talked about his newest on-site endeavor, the Alabama Distillery Co., now boasting 10 custom flavors of moonshine, all made locally, in-house.

Watson’s love for food and beverage sales began years ago in 2015 with the opening of Kat Daddy’s BBQ and Grill and then shifted to The Stash House in 2021. Wanting to branch out even further, in 2023 Watson decided to try his hand at moonshine and other distilled spirits.

“There is not one person alive today who was alive the last time this was legal,” said Watson, gesturing to his 300-gallon still setup, which he has affectionately named Big Lucy. The massive 300-gallon tank is a fixture in the back warehouse of the Stash House, allowing Watson to maintain two businesses at once. ‘Why Moonshine?’ some may ask; Watson said it goes back to Alabama’s heritage.

“There have been archeological studies where they discovered pot stills made of solid copper in Alabama that had to date back to the 1700s,” Watson said. While on his yearly vacation to Pigeon Forge, an idea struck, “Ole Smoky (moonshine) started in 2012. As an Alabamian, I saw a business opportunity. It seems like the town of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville came alive out of moonshine. I’m bringing tradition and innovation – I knew that if I could get in the business, I could learn to do this the legal way, the safe way and educate Alabamians and bring that excitement and business here.”

Distilling moonshine is no easy task. From finding the right corn base to finding recipes and flavors that work with the shine, Watson has faced challenges – challenges that he was born with the skills to overcome. While his supply of white corn isn’t locally sourced yet, it’s something he hopes to achieve in the future: an entirely community-supported distillery, with all local ingredients from the water to the corn for the mash, just as his Alabamian ancestors did.

“Corn was everywhere and relatively inexpensive. We had cornmeal, grits, cracked corn, corn for livestock, most homes had a corn shed,” Watson explained. “White corn is sweeter. The sweeter the corn, the more sugar content and the higher the proof. Three and a half bushels of white corn, I could make 5-quart jars of 150-proof shine. Yellow corn it would take me four bushels.”

Bringing tourism and visitors isn’t all Watson had planned for the Alabama Distillery Co. This is a legacy he is proud of – built on blood, sweat and tears. Now, his legacy will live on. His daughter, 26-year-old Hannah Lane McClendon, is a mother of two and now Alabama’s only female distillery owner and the youngest female distillery owner in America. Known as The Alabama Moonshine Girl, McClendon owns 51% of the company, keeping family tradition alive in the moonshine business.

Moonshine may be the only thing on Alabama Distillery Co.’s menu at the moment, but Watson is gearing up and aiming to take his businesses to the next level of spirit making. Wine, mead, beer and bourbon are all on his mind, needing only the recipes that have been passed down to make the dream a reality.

“We need people that want to collaborate with us. We have 6 acres here and would like to branch into other types of spirit production,” Watson said. “I’m looking for the old stories and know-how that was passed on from someone’s granddaddy.”

Alabama Distillery Co. is located at 123 Lindsey Road and is open for pre-scheduled tours. The Stash House, a full-service restaurant, is open Thursdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

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