Tom's Blog


Glen Coleman 5 inchesMy drinking days ended in 1986. I’ve always said that I really worked hard at drinking, and got all of it done before the age of fifty. I may not drink, but I can still appreciate wine, beer and whiskey in a non-participatory sense. I guess this form of voyeurism could be termed “euphoric recall” by some of my more ridged AA buddies, but there it is—I do harbor a warm place in my heart for good scotch and sour mash whiskey.


During my active drinking years, I managed to tour several of the major distillers and vintners—including Jack Daniels and Robert Mondavi—and usually the post tour tasting was the highlight of the afternoon. In the nearly thirty years since my last drink, I have learned that one can enjoy the aroma and complexity of a spirit without actually partaking. I put this to good use during a recent visit to The Striped Pig Distillery in Charleston, South Carolina.


There are small craft distillers popping up all across the South, but I believe the Striped Pig to be among the leaders in quality, craftsmanship, and finished product. The dedicated folks at the “Pig” are not satisfied with hand picking the grain used to make their spirits, but go all the way to hand picking the seed from which the grain is grown. The seed is planted on a locally owned farm just outside of Charleston, and the grain is harvested under intense supervision and milled on-site at the distillery.


The Striped Pig’s attention to detail assures consistent quality mash, and mash is the heart and soul of distilling. During the distilling process, once again done on site and in modern pot and column stills, the staff monitors each and every step, and the resulting spirits clearly reflect this obsession with detail. The Striped Pig manufactures and bottles high end rum, vodka, and whiskey. It also turns out a very drinkable moonshine—for those of you who like to have your cocktails served in mason jars.


I bring up the process of manufacture simply to differentiate The Striped Pig from those establishments that buy their sprits in bulk, then filter, flavor, blend and bottle. These are not craft distillers, and they rely mainly on marketing techniques to sell their products. When a product is nursed from the seed to the aging barrel, sense of ownership follows that far transcends merely mixing it up and putting it in a bottle. The Striped Pig does the whole process, and then sells their product at a price competitive with other bottles of far lesser quality. Also visit to see a more detailed version of my experience at the Striped Pig.

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12 replies »

  1. Thanks, Tom.

    There is a new distillery in Nelson County, Silverback, which makes either vodka or gin or both. Haven’t stopped by yet, but almost always see cars there.

    Nelson County also has about 10 wineries and three microbreweries. Yes, a tourist destination — Nelson is the most beautiful county in Virginia, “That’s where the Blue Ridge Mountains shade the western sky.”

    Bill Howard Nellysford VA >

    • Bill, I agree that your part of Virginia is beautiful, Clista and I drive up US 29 to visit her son and his family. They live on Lake Anna, just east of Charlottesville, not only very pretty, but very historic as well. The craft distilling movement is really in its infancy and the Striped Pig is leading the way.

  2. I am all in as we like to say at historic old VU – on your blog that is. Good stuff. GBM

    • George, thanks for the comment. we southern boys do like our bourbon. I can remember Colonel Lee @ $.85 per half pint and it wasn’t all that bad. They ran specials at the Woodpile from time to time.

      • Speaking of the Woodpile – a gentleman who grew up not far from the environs of the Woodpile told me once that the local moonshiners in that neck of the woods would throw a dead rabbit in the mash pot when they left for the night. The sight of the floating rabbit carcass would turn off any “squeezins” poachers who might show up during the night. Guess the guys at Striped Pig find no need for such safeguards.

      • Dickie, Things have come a long way in the past fifty or so years. Having on several occasions, usually in the company of Leonard Clark, I had the opportunity to sample homemade hooch from the West Point area. A dead rabbit would have made an improvment to the product. As you noted, the Striped Pig has a more modern approach to security.

      • A good shot of that first thing in the “mawnin'” would truly be “hare” of the dog

  3. I’d kinda like to hear either the “Pier 66 Drapes Open” or the “What Rental Car?” Story … They were pre ’86 after all and in full disclosure I was nearby for both stories.

  4. I often quote you from a discussion we had a good 50 years ago, when a strange phenomenon was beginning to take shape. People were smoking something other than tobacco. Your comment then (and my philosophy now) was “If there is anything better than Jack Daniel’s whiskey, I don’t need to know about it!”

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