So a lawyer, a cop, and an elite soldier walk into a bar…
Sounds like the intro to a bad joke but it’s actually closer to reality than you think. This entire venture started with an affinity for wine. Tom, Eric, and Leigh all met and formed a friendship around wine, despite the vast differences between their individual walks of life. Eric and Leigh met over ten years ago while they were both serving in Special Operations together. They formed a friendship around pairing obscure meats with boutique wines between training and deployments. This spawned a slight obsession with the wine industry, and the two never let up on their passion cooking good food and pairing great wines. After several years in the Army, Eric got out and tried his hand at selling wine — but after quickly realizing he wasn’t a very good salesman he instead became a police officer. While serving as an officer he challenged himself to take the arduous Certified Specialist of Wine exam and after 2 years of intense study, he passed. He then began teaching wine classes at a local wine shop in Clayton, N.C. where he met Tom.
Tom was a very successful lawyer in the town of Clayton and was equally as passionate about wine and cuisine as Leigh and Eric. Tom invited Eric to stop by his firm after hours to try some wine and spirits from his collection. Tom opened a bottle of a wine-based spirit called grappa and this sparked a conversation about the lack of a local craft distillery in Clayton. Immediately, their joint interests were piqued. Eric told Leigh about the idea and he jumped on board as well, despite the fact that he was still serving on Active Duty under Special Operations.
As the distilling permit is one of the hardest permits in America to obtain, the three men formulated a plan to build Clayton’s first LEGAL distillery the good ol’ fashion American way. They founded the project themselves without a major investor or any bank loan. They also banged every nail in the building and laid every brick in their environmentally friendly parking lot. They shopped at the local hardware stores and bought American-made appliances as often as possible. They hired veteran-owned and first responder-owned companies when they needed to hire a job out, and sponsored community events before they even had a product to sell . The three men never talked the talk, but walked the walk, saying, “If three guys like us can buy local, buy American, and support the community, then bigger companies coming to our small town can and should do the same”.
The story doesn’t end there. As wine nerds first, the three vowed to take a more wine-style approach to the distilling process, bringing depth and complexity to each spirit they create. Instill Distilling Co. believes in doing things the hard, right way over taking the easy shortcut. They are dedicated to INSTILLing these simple values in the masses.
Work Hard, Family First, and Enjoy Craft Spirits. Cheers!