Brooksville’s Distillery in the Wilds of Florida

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Wild Buck Whiskey, Mermaid Rum, and Ryes and Shine Moonshine Distilled by NJoy Spirit's Distillery in Brooksville, Fla.

Wild Buck Whiskey, Mermaid Rum, and Ryes and Shine Moonshine Distilled by NJoy Spirit’s Distillery in Brooksville, Fla.

I gasped as I watched Natalie Joy Goff of NJoy Spirit’s Distillery pour a small amount of Wild Buck Whiskey on the palm of her hand and with both hands, she rubbed it into her skin, almost as if she was trying to moisturize them with lotion. It wasn’t necessarily the act of her pouring it into her hands that shocked me, because it’s the first time I’ve seen someone do this, it’s because a bottle is $60 and in my world that’s a lot of money.

Natalie Joy Goff Pouring Wild Buck Whiskey into Her Hand at NJoy Spirit's Distillery, Brooksville, Fla, Sept. 14, 2018.

Natalie Joy Goff Pouring Wild Buck Whiskey into Her Hand at NJoy Spirit’s Distillery, Brooksville, Fla, Sept. 14, 2018.

She was demonstrating that if a caramel coloring is not added to the whiskey and the coloring is its natural color. If a caramel coloring had been added, her hands would be sticky but they were not. I also sniffed her hand and could smell a clean, earthy scent.

Natalie Joy and Kevin Goff of NJoy Spirit's Distillery, Brooksville, Fla, Sept. 14, 2018

Natalie Joy and Kevin Goff of NJoy Spirit’s Distillery, Brooksville, Fla, Sept. 14, 2018

Natalie Joy and Kevin Goff purchased an 80-acre hunting camp in the middle of the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area in Brooksville, Fla., and since 2012, they have been distilling whiskey, and more recently moonshine, with the rye they grow on site. The husband and wife team also distill rum made with fresh cane juice from sugar cane grown on their farm. What do I think is really cool about their product? They use twice-filtered rain water captured on site.

Horses graze and gallop near the distillery and the farm is home to about 600 beehives, all of which can (positively) impact the flavors of the spirits. There’s a resident donkey whose name is Snockers so I’m guessing you have an idea what he’s gotten into.

NJoy Spirit's Distillery, Brooksville, Fla, Sept. 14, 2018

NJoy Spirit’s Distillery, Brooksville, Fla, Sept. 14, 2018

I have taken several rum distillery tours but this was the first I learned about the “angel’s share.” I mean, I know what it means but I don’t recall a distiller explaining what it is and how it impacts their bottom line.

Because the whiskey is barreled at 102 degrees, due to Florida’s conditions, it’s aging at 140 degrees in high humidity resulting in 18 percent of the originally barreled product evaporating, or, it’s gone up to the angels. The downside is, what’s taxed is the what is placed in the barrels so if 53 gallons is poured in and if 47 gallons are left when it’s time to bottle the whiskey, NJoy Spirit’s Distillery is taxed on 53 gallons. Yikes!

Spirits Aging at NJoy Spirit's Distillery, Brooksville, Fla, Sept. 14, 2018

Spirits Aging at NJoy Spirit’s Distillery, Brooksville, Fla, Sept. 14, 2018

The upside is, it concentrates the flavor and Wild Buck Whiskey and Mermaid Rum are superior products. Plus, they take their time and do everything just about by hand, crushing of the rye and pressing of the sugar cane, bottling, and putting on the labels. In fact, their rum has earned double gold medals from the American Distilling Institute and NJoy Spirit’s Distillery is served in high-end dining establishments such as The Ritz-Carlton and Bern’s Steakhouse.

 

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{SWIPE} “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” ~ Mark Twain . . . I’m not sure how many distilleries are located in the middle of a state wildlife management area but NJoy Spirit’s Distillery is. Heading down the bumpy, dirt road through the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, I wasn’t sure if the driver was heading in the right direction. . . . Eventually, we reached our destination and met the distillery’s founders, Natalie Joy and Kevin Goff. Since 2012 they have been distilling whiskey with the rye they grow on site and more recently, moonshine. They also distill rum made with fresh cane juice from sugar cane grown on their 80-acre farm they purchased in 2006 when it was a hunting camp. . . . Their Wild Buck Whiskey is smooth, their Mermaid Rum is subtly sweet (names so because they’re near Weeki Wachee, home of mermaids), and their Ryes in Shine has a strong bite. In this video, Natalie explains how you know if a moonshine is stronger than 130 proof. . . . #fowa2018 #adventurecoast #lovefl #cheers #floridagrown #freshfromflorida #njoydistillery #whiskey #rum #moonshine #presstrip #mediatrip #hosted

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It’s About the Journey
Getting to the distillery is an adventure. Since it’s located in the middle of a state wildlife management area means the way is not paved and your GPS, or whatever navigational program you use, may not lead you to the right spot. It’s a bit of a bumpy, slow ride over the dirt road and through undeveloped habitat but it’s a scenic one through Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area. Keep an eye out for signs to guide you to the destination.

Their Wild Buck Whiskey is smooth, their Mermaid Rum is subtly sweet (named so because they’re near Weeki Wachee, home of mermaids), and their Ryes in Shine has a strong bite and tastes like soil. It’s a fun visit out to their farm to learn how they harvest and distill, how different attributes of the farm impacts flavor, and of course, tasting these farm-to-glass Florida spirits. Tastings and tours are offered on the weekends. Learn more at: www.wildbuckwhiskey.com.

NJoy Spirit's Distillery, Brooksville, Fla, Sept. 14, 2018

Nuts & Bolts About NJoy Spirit’s Distillery
It’s located on Rattlesnake Camp Road. Enter through the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area at 13243 Commercial Way (US Highway 19 North), Brooksville, Fla. 34614. Find the map on NJoy Spirit’s website www.wildbuckwhiskey.com/contact

Tel: (352) 592-9622
www.wildbuckwhiskey.com

Disclosure: As a member of the media attending a conference, this trip to NJoy Spirit’s Distillery was included with the conference. The host has not reviewed this post and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links to support this blog, my traveling habit, and my special-needs dog.

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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