In the southern part of JoCo, just off I-95, is Benson-based Broadslab Distillery; which has been offering ‘shine products, tours, and tastings since 2015. Master Distillery Jeremy Norris is what you’d call the “real deal”, with moonshining in his roots and a recipe that goes back five generations. 

On October 7th, Jeremy will debut his first new product in many years: flue-cured bourbon. The bourbon has been in pre-production since 2021, with a planned line-up of similar products behind it. Jeremy and his wife Shelly are taking Broadslab in a new, exciting, and different direction. 

“Broadslab Distillery is North Carolina's first farm distillery since prohibition and we take great pride in utilizing a true grassroots and hands-on approach to operating our farm-to-bottle distillery,” said Jeremy. “We are proud to be one of the few distilleries in the world to grow the very grains on our farm that are used to manufacture our grain-to-glass whiskeys.”

The Norrises started the distillery producing a true, handcrafted, dirt-to-bottle, authentic moonshine using Jeremy’s grandfather’s recipe to diversify and produce a value-added product utilizing the grains they grew. All of their whiskeys are handcrafted and produced in small batches in a time-honored tradition using non-GMO grains.

“Our goal was to stay engaged in farming on a small scale by making it profitable at a time when small family farms were becoming unprofitable and fewer in numbers,” said Shelly. 

Jeremy & Shelly Norris of Broadslab Distillery Pose in front of Still

Jeremy currently has a patent pending on a one-of-a-kind process for aging whiskeys. He fills and stores the whiskey in new American white oak barrels that are then moved to a neighboring tobacco farm during the tobacco harvest and curing season. The whiskey barrels are rested in the tobacco barn with the tobacco during the leaf drying stage of the curing process. The intense heat and presence of tobacco that the barrels of whiskey encounter during the curing creates a distinct aging process that makes the whiskeys truly unique.

“All of our whiskeys are distilled in a 500-gallon, all copper, direct-fired, pot still that I designed and had built from scratch when we opened the distillery in 2012.  All grains used in our mash bills are grown, harvested, stored, and milled on our farms and in our distillery,” Jeremy takes visitors to the distillery through his process. 

The flue-cured process of aging whiskey honors North Carolina’s long rich history of tobacco farming and whiskey production.  To some it is unknown, or maybe even forgotten, but the tobacco industry was once the largest source of income for North Carolina. Tobacco growing and manufacturing shaped North Carolina’s development into the economic stronghold that it is today. 

Jeremy talks about the legacy of moonshine making within his own family history, “The illegal moonshine trade, or bootlegging had a similar impact to tobacco on North Carolina’s development but on a smaller scale.  People may not admit it but bootlegging paid for college educations, built churches, and supported many election campaigns.”  

Broadslab Distillery four bourbon product bottles sitting on a barrel, Benson, NC.

Broadslab Single Barrel Bourbon, the first in a line-up of four new products, is getting released at the distillery on Saturday, October 7th. The distillery will be open from Noon to 6 PM on Saturday with a food truck on-site from Noon to 5 PM. Tours will be at Noon, 2 PM, and 4 PM. In the weeks to come, Broadslab will also be releasing Broadslab Bourbon and Broadslab Single Barrel Rye Whiskey. The last of the line, Broadslab Rye Whiskey, is still a few months in the making. For now, you can only purchase these products on-site at the distillery in Benson as they debut. However, they will eventually become available at select liquor stores across North Carolina. 

“We are excited about our four new products and are diligently working to get all of them on the market,” said Shelly. “In addition, Broadslab is currently readying to display and sell merchandise at the NC State Fair this year. We will be providing a display of mash and running the still each day, selling our merchandise, and promoting our new flue-cured product series.” 

In addition to new products, Jeremy now has AirBnB stay options at Broadslab near the distillery. Happy's House, which has 4 bedrooms and 2.5 baths, and the Baccer Barn (an actual, historic, restored tobacco barn), with one bedroom and one bath, can be booked via AirBnB's website. Broadslab is part of the JoCo Beer, Wine, and Shine Trail, a self-guided craft beverage trail covering eight locations in the county.

Broadslab Distillery Tasting Room in Benson, NC.