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Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - 4:43am

Group Eyes Distillery For Jackson

A Jackson, Ga. business group hopes to open what would be only the second distillery in Georgia. And its co-owners say local tourism could get a boost with their venture.

The distillery would make bourbon, rye whiskey, and other liquors in a dry county. Butts County, midway between Macon and Atlanta, does not allow the sale of liquor in stores.

Shawn Hall, one of the co-owners of the group, says it took owners about six months to convince local officials to sign-off on a construction permit.

"That is where we chose to start obviously because that’s the biggest hurdle...the rest of it is a business transaction. When it came right down to it for the city to approve us, there were four people in opposition.”

Hall says two of the four had issues with the distillery being built in downtown Jackson. He says plans are to make it look like a country store—and offer tours with hopes of boosting tourism.

Hall and his partners plan to lobby for state permission to sell liquor on-site to help drive tourism business.

"(We don't want to) ask the state of Georgia to do anything unique but maybe just follow along the lines of Colorado and some of the other states in that we would be able to give samples and we would be able to sell our product out of our showroom.”

Hall says once up-and-running, their distillery in Jackson would produce up to 20,000 gallons of liquor a year. He hopes the plant is operational perhaps by December, or early in 2011.

The only other distillery in Georgia is in Americus.

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