Top of the Hill’s new distillery took a big step forward Tuesday.
The facility, housed in the old Chapel Hill Newspaper building on W. Franklin Street, conducted a “stripper run” that produced a rudimentary form of alcohol.
Proprietor Scott Maitland, who referred to the building as “Chapel Hill Booze,” said he was pleased with the resulting product.
“To me, this is cleaner than our competition,” he said. “I was amazed at how good it tasted.”
Maitland said he’s close enough to production that he’s confident customers will see Top of the Hill-brand liquor on shelves by mid-May.
The facility will make gin, bourbon, rum and vodka from local and organic products.
“You’ve got farm to table. This is grain to glass,” Maitland said. “That’s the thing that will hopefully get people to give us a try.”
Maitland said he considers the distillery’s liquors far more local than Top of the Hill’s beer or North Carolina wine because the ingredients for liquor come from the area.
He said the distillery will make batches of spirits using 2,000 pound bags of grain, 4,000 pound bags of ground wheat and 1,700 gallons of water.
Esteban McMahan, investor and salesperson at the distillery, said agreements are already in place to sell products to 411 West, Spanky’s, Lantern and other local bars and restaurants.
“It’s the usual suspects,” he said. “We’ll start in the Triangle and expand from there.”
He said that since ABC stores are required to sell North Carolina products consumers are interested in, Top of the Hill-branded liquors will be available statewide.
UNC junior Lauren Seborowski said she has had good experiences with local beer but has never had local liquor.
“I don’t know that I would pick it up without some sort of recommendation, but I’m curious,” she said.
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