Tallahassee Welcomes a New Craft Distillery

Craft Distilleries and Their Products Are Growing in Popularity

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Dave Barfield

Timber Creek Distillery in Crestview uses a local blend of corn, wheat and barley to create their bourbon, which is easy to drink whether you prefer it neat, on the rocks or mixed in your favorite cocktail.


A former Navy pilot and chemist, Paul Rollins was looking for something interesting to do when he retired in Gulf Breeze.

Aaron Barnes and Camden Ford wanted to form a business, hatching their plan over meetings in a Destin backyard.

Dean Minardi had an idea to convert the old Coca-Cola bottling plant near downtown Tallahassee into a business.

On the surface, there doesn’t appear to be a connection among these four. But along with a growing number of individuals across the region, state and nation, they have developed a similar passion for a rapidly expanding industry — craft distilling.

The business of booze, more specifically craft spirits, is growing by double digits. The number of small production facilities in the United States has more than tripled since 2007, with the total number of craft distilleries now hitting the highest numbers since Prohibition.

According to data from a recent study conducted by the American Craft Spirits Association, IWSR and Park Street, there were at least 1,280 active craft spirit producers in the nation in 2015. Between 2007 and 2015, the annual growth rate for permits was 16 percent.

In Florida, records from the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation show that as of Aug. 17, 2016, there were 37 licensed distilleries in the state, stretching from Okaloosa County in Northwest Florida to Miami. Along the Panhandle, there are currently four licensed distilleries — Rollins Distillery in Gulf Breeze, Blackwater Spirits Inc. in Milton, Peaden Brothers Distillery in Crestview and Timber Creek Distillery in Crestview.

During an eight-year period that began in 2004, a total of 12 distillery applications were filed with the department. Between 2012 and 2015, there were 32 applications filed. As of mid-August, four more applications were filed.

Craft spirits are the products created and bottled on-site by an independently owned distillery with maximum annual sales of 52,000 cases. To be considered a craft distillery, one must be involved in all aspects of the distillation process, from ingredient selection to bottling and labeling. They are regulated much like any other business and must adhere to all local and state regulations. One more caveat: They can open only in “wet counties.”


Rollins Distillery

The father and son team of Paul and Patrick Rollins leased their current property — located at 5680 Gulf Breeze Parkway, D-10 — in 2012, although the company itself was born the year prior.

“The first year was spent planning out our operations,” Paul Rollins explained. “We really wanted to start out as a pilot plant and take the time to get good products developed.”

Rollins Distillery, which is filled to the brim with large containers holding molasses, a variety of stills, coiled copper pipes, a fermenting room and a packaging/bottling area, produces three products (all molasses-based) out of its warehouse setting: Esprit de Krewe Vodka, Esprit de Krewe Crystal Rum and Esprit de Krewe Spiced Rum.

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