Tallahassee Welcomes New Craft Distillery
Timber Creek Distillery
About 70 miles northeast of the Rollins Distillery in Gulf Breeze, Florida, Aaron Barnes and his business partner, Camden Ford, make their own craft spirits at Timber Creek Distillery in Crestview.
Situated on a large family farm, the approach to the distillery off of Poverty Creek Road is dramatic and secluded. The red clay road is lined with tall pines, private driveways and abandoned homes with plenty of stories to tell. It’s a setting straight out of a Hollywood movie.
Added Barnes, “It was literally two neighbors sitting on the back porch drinking booze.”
The name Timber Creek comes from the man who built the house Barnes’ parents bought years ago. The fireplace in the living room has the name Timber Creek etched into it.
The property itself is roughly 2 square miles in size, abuts Juniper Creek and is home to a variety of fruit trees and a couple of pigs.
Corn, wheat, barley and rye fill silos next to the distillery. At Timber Creek, Barnes uses a process called batch distillation to create his spirits.
“For whiskey, I’ll run it through twice, and for rums I’ll run it four times,” he said. Walking through the distillery, there are massive stills, pots and heavy equipment churning and humming with activity. Barnes said his stills were custom-made in China.
Timber Creek currently has eight products on the market — vodka, clear rum, dark rum, coffee rum, apple pie rum, bourbon, a four-grain reserve bourbon and a black rye whiskey.
“The apple pie rum is very popular,” Barnes said. “What I like to do with this is mix it with unsweet tea or drizzle a little bit of it over vanilla ice cream.”
For the coffee lover, Barnes said the coffee rum is made from a dark roasted Brazilian coffee and then blended with rum. It’s ideal for a cold coffee.
As for their vodka, Barnes said initially Timber Creek hadn’t planned to make any, as there are a thousand vodkas on the shelf at every liquor store.
“I ended up making a bunch of wheat whiskey and then just ran it through the still two more times to get it back up to 95 percent,” he said. “Then we did the charcoal filtering, which is required by Florida law, and we ended up with the vodka. I wasn’t really a vodka drinker, but I love it. It actually has flavor.”
“Timber Creek ages everything in special barrels,” Barnes said. So, they can get the flavors they want and have more control over the products. From start to finish, it will take about nine months to make a bourbon. Timber Creek uses wood from the Ozarks in Missouri for its barrels.
“It really ages better,” Barnes said.
Given the size of the distillery, Barnes can produce about 1,000 cases a month, but he’d ideally like to expand his facility so he can produce 6,000 cases a month.
Where to Buy
Barnes said, we attend many events and as a result, our products have been well received on the streets and at the events.
“I’ve had people almost stalk me over the coffee rum,” he said. “People just love it. That really says a lot when people will drive all the way from Pensacola to get this.”
Timber Creek’s spirits can be found in Walmart, Sam’s Club and Publix locally.
“Getting into some stores can be difficult compared to the big guys. We’re local and a small-scale distillery,” Barnes said. “You really have to get out there and sell yourself and the product you are creating.”
This fall, Timber Creek will release a, “blend your own bourbon kit.” Barnes said this product would come with four bottles of flavorings. Which include wheat, barley and corn, for the bourbon lover to play with and create his or her own blend.
So is Barnes proud of what he produces day in and day out?
“Of course, I make booze,” he quickly said. “How can life get much better?”
But there is still room to improve and room to grow, at Timber Creek and as craft distillers in as well.
by Matt Algarin
*This excerpt is from page 3 of 4 of the article