Nestled in the heart of Benson, sits a distillery steeped in agricultural heritage and North Carolina history. Growing up on a farm, Jeremy Norris, owner and master distiller at Broadslab, learned a lot about farming and distilling at the hands of his grandfather. “Back before this place became a distillery, my grandparents grew a variety of produce on the farm,” he said. “I learned a lot at the hands of my grandfather that has helped me throughout my farming career, including how to grow and harvest crops and how to make moonshine.” As many North Carolinians know, our state has a deep history of bootlegging. During the prohibition era, many individuals produced moonshine under the cover of darkness and distributed it to interested customers, including both of Jeremy’s grandfathers, William “Bill” McLamb and Leonard A. Wood. “My grandfather Leonard was my personal mentor and he taught me the majority of what I know about distilling,” he said. “Broadslab Distillery is located in the footprint of many of the stills that he built – stills which helped build our legacy here at Broadslab.” The property at Broadslab transitioned from a produce farm to a distillery about fifteen years ago when Jeremy took over and started growing corn, rye, soybeans, wheat and barley. Since then, Jeremy has worked hard to preserve both of his grandfather’s legacies and produce liquor products that would make them proud today.
In 2012, Broadslab opened its doors to the public for the very first time, offering their Legacy Shine Whiskey and Carolina Coast Silver Rum. “The process for making all of our products starts in the field,” Jeremy said. Whiskey products are made from the grain, rye and corn grown on-site at Broadslab Distillery. The cane used in making the rum, however, is purchased from a partnering farm. Both products reflect the hard work of farmers and are vital in making the delicious beverages found at Broadslab Distillery. “We use non-GMO white dent corn, rye and barley in our whiskey products,” Jeremy said. “We start in the field with planting and eventually harvest, where everything is put into bins and transferred to the hammer mill and holding tank. Then we cook the starch out and add enzymes before the product is sent to fermentation. All of our whiskey products are distilled three times before they are ever put into barrels for aging.” Today, the distillery offers both of these original products as well as their Broadslab Legacy Reserve Whiskey, Carolina Coast Spiced Rum and Legacy Appleshine. They also recently released a brand new product, Flue-Cured Bourbon, which is the first of its kind in the nation.
On October 7th, Jeremy and his staff released their first batch of flue-cured bourbon. They are also planning on releasing another new product, Rye Whiskey, later this year .”Last July through September we partnered with a neighbor farm to put some of our whiskey barrels in his tobacco barn,” Jeremy said. “These barrels steeped in the barn as the surrounding tobacco cured, giving it a rich history and flavor. The taste compares with an 8-10 year old whiskey after only being aged for a year and a half.” This Flue-Cured Bourbon is the only product of its kind on the market to date and it is currently Jeremy’s favorite product because of the rich taste, unique notes and blended history of NC that it offers.
One way to experience Broadslab Distillery is by visiting their spot at the N.C. State Fair, taking place this year October 12-22nd in Raleigh. Down in Heritage Circle, Jeremy and his staff daily teach fairgoers how to ferment and distill a batch of whiskey. “With our display at the fair, we are able to interact with people from all over the state and beyond,” he said. “It’s fun to hear their stories and teach them how we operate at Broadslab. It’s amazing how much people don’t know about our industry and I love educating them on our process and our products.” Jeremy or a member of his staff can be found in Heritage Circle every day of the fair from opening until the end of the fireworks. This year, they will also feature a small merchandise area where you can purchase hats, shirts and more to show off your Drink Local pride. Whiskey and rum purchases must be made at the distillery itself or at local ABC Stores, but product bottles will be available for display only at the fair.
The distillery in Benson is open to the public on Thursday, Friday and Saturday each week, and offers tours on the latter two days so that you and your family can experience all that Broadslab has to offer. “We offer tours at 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday,” Jeremy said. “Everyone will meet up at the bar area and merchandise stand. We depart from there on a cotton trailer tram and ride down to the distillery where we watch a video and tour both the distillery and the barrel house. Finally, we end with a tasting and tram ride back to the bar area.” Tours at Broadslab typically last about an hour and fifteen minutes and cost $12 per person. Each participant will receive a souvenir shot glass at the end of their tour. “I enjoy showcasing the distillery to people in this way because it allows me to educate them on the history of moonshine in our state and our process of making the best products possible,” Jeremy said. “I take a lot of pride in what we do, and being able to experience others enjoying the distillery and our products is a tremendous reward.” These hours and tour offerings will soon be expanded so keep an eye on their website and social media pages for future announcements!
Whether for their delicious products or the beautiful barn venue on-site, Broadslab Distillery is well-known and well-loved in the community. The barn was built in 2017 and has hosted a variety of weddings and community events. With new products and venue expansions on the horizon, the distillery is staying at the forefront of the industry and continuing to remain a community staple for both agriculture and state history. Check out their website to schedule your tour today, stop by the tasting room on-site or head out to their spot at the N.C. State Fair to meet Jeremy and hear their story for yourself. We are proud of all that they are doing to further the agriculture industry in our state and look forward to seeing where the future will take them.