MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — According to Tara Price, all moonshine starts with a story.
Tara and her husband Glen are adding their story to the folklore surrounding moonshine by creating Berkeley County’s first moonshine distillery in their barn in Martinsburg.
Their story began last winter, following the death of beloved family pet Biscuit, a draft horse adored by neighborhood children and known for proudly pulling Santa’s sled in the Martinsburg Christmas parade.
With the empty barn a reminder of their loss, Tara and Glen decided to follow a friend’s suggestion to transform the barn into a distillery to legally make moonshine, which quickly grew into their own small business, Black Draft Distillery.
“When you go down (to the barn), you’ll still see a lot of Biscuit there, a lot of her hardware and the carriage. So when we decided to name our distillery, we decided to name it Black Draft after her. We thought that would just be a great fit, evoke her spirit to celebrate her, and also just give a new life to something that was a new chapter in our lives,” Tara said.
Acquiring all the necessary permits in about six months, the Prices began their operation with no set recipe and a 10-gallon still.
“When we got the still, we knew we could go in any direction, but we decided to go with moonshine, because what’s more West Virginia than moonshine? I thought it would be nice to bring that heritage to our area,” Tara said.
Glen, the primary moonshine maker, chose to make a grain-based moonshine, trying to find the perfect flavor that could be sipped or mixed.
While performing some initial research, Glen said his recipe essentially evolved through trial and error.
“I made some nasty stuff along the way, but also some good stuff,” Glen said, adding that he’s since streamlined the recipe and process to consistently pull good batches.
“The relative simplicity of the process I love. Naturally, I’m an IT geek, and to get back to something that’s with corn and barley and grain, and you’re smelling it and tasting it, that’s kind of neat to me. You’re very hands-on, and it’s very tangible,” Glen said.
The Prices named their first product First Harvest, a 100 proof corn whiskey. Tara described the drink as having the “kick” that people expect from moonshine paired with a sweet afterglow from the corn. The drink is packaged in a mason jar with a Black Draft label featuring a silhouetted image of a horse, Biscuit.