Chase City distillery is up and running

Chase City distillery is up and running

Robert Bondurant kept one eye on the proof hydrometer and another on the still’s thermometer last week as the first batch of moonshine cooked at the new Bondurant Brothers Distillery in Chase City.

The distillery has two stills, a 550 gallon still for production runs and a smaller 45 gallon still for samples, smaller batches and specialty runs. This first batch was being produced in the smaller still as a test run, just to make sure everything was work- ing properly and that fin- ished product was up to the “Bondurant standard.”

At around 2:00 p.m. on Thursday of last week, he loaded the still with mash, turned on the heat and waited. Patience, he explained, is one of the most important ingredients to making good moonshine.

It took most of the after- noon for the mash to cook and shortly before 6:00 p.m., the “thump barrel” began making the sound that signals the run is starting. At exactly 6:05 p.m. the clear moonshine began to trickle from the still.

Initial tests were encouraging. Proof and flavor were dead on the money and by 10:00 p.m., the run was finished, the moonshine proofed and bottled, labels were applied and the bottles were sealed by hand.

The first run of shine at the Bondurant Brothers Distillery was a success. It’s been a long haul for Bondurant.

“I have been talking about it for a while, but I sold the store and went to work full time on the distillery in October 2014,” said Bondurant this week.

For full story please see the December 9, issue of The News-Progress or subscribe to their print and e-edition.

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Old Roller Mill will be home to Bondurant distillery

Old Roller Mill will be home to Bondurant distillery

In the 1920s and 1930s, if you lived in Franklin County, most likely you were in involved in the county's biggest industry — making illegal whiskey or moonshine. The proliferation of stills prompted then-Deputy Prohibition Commissioner N.C. Alexander to note that of the 30,000 people living in Franklin County at the time, 29,999 were "mixed up directly or indirectly in the whiskey business."

Franklin County was known during Prohibition as "the wettest county in America."

Eighty years later, the grandson of one Franklin County's moonshiners, Robert Bondurant of Chase City, is carrying on the family legacy by making moonshine in a still pot handed down through the family. That's where Robert's ties to the past ends.

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TV’s American Pickers visit roller mill

TV’s American Pickers visit roller mill

Residents in Chase City were buzzing with Hollywood fever last week when they learned that scouts from the television show "American Pickers" were in town.

The men were at the Southside Roller Mill on East 3rd Street in downtown Chase City.

They weren't visiting to look at the Mill, which was recently named to Preservation Virginia's list of most endangered sites. Instead, the scouts came to sort through the treasures that Mill owner Harry Click has collected and assembled over the years, only some of which are housed at the Mill.

For those who are unfamiliar with the show that airs on the History Channel, it is about two expert antique hunters, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, who travel the country looking for what the show's website calls "hidden gems."

It is also about the quirky characters with amazing stories to tell who the two men meet as they travel around in their pickup truck.

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