Broad Branch Distillery in downtown Winston-Salem, NC, produces a variety of handmade craft spirits. They are a grain-to-glass distillery, receiving non-gmo heirloom whole grain from local farmers, except for the rye they use, which is from Washington State. The grain is ground fresh every week, fermented, then cooked, distilled, barreled and bottled. “Don Jenkins and I are newbies to the distillation game. We started at nearly the inception of the business, around five years ago. Together, we cook, distill and blend. Broad Branch Distillery was founded by John Fragakis, a beer and wine distributor and the late Nick Doumas, who was a general contractor. Through his distributorship, John had clients in the Atlantic Basin, to which he was selling California wine during the ’90s. Often these distributors were distillers, too, in their own countries. The association with these distillers made John think that distillation was the up-and-coming opportunity. As he normally would, he discussed the potential with Nick Doumas and they decided they would move forward with setting up the distillery. Sadly, medical issues that they both faced set the plan back a few years, but eventually they met Frank Williams, a third-generation former artisan distiller, and decided to move forward with the distillery plan. While Don and I came on initially as part-time, we are now here full-time, working to set our products apart in the industry,” said Joe Tappe, Broad Brand Distillery distiller.
In addition to several exciting spirits in the barrels and in testing, Broad Branch Distillery currently has 5 spirits on the market, which are: Nightlab 1.0, an NC white whiskey with roots traced back 8 to 9 generations from the Frank Williams family of Alleghany County; Nobilium, a 3-year-aged, 3-barrel master blend NC whiskey; Sungazer, an old-world style pot-distilled amber rum; Smashing Violet, a blueberry whiskey featuring eastern NC blueberries, with no colors, flavors, or sugar added; and Rye Fidelity, a 100% Straight Rye aged in American oak for 6 years. While Broad Branch Distillery has become popular in our area, the word has gotten out and the distillery was recently featured on an episode of Discovery Channel’s Moonshiners: Whiskey Business!
While the distillery was glad to participate in the show, they are still uncertain how they were chosen. “We don’t know exactly how the Discovery Channel found us. Our thought is that they may have seen some of the product- launch videos produced here by Don, but when we asked the producer, he was unsure, since there were also scouts looking for distilleries to feature. Our episode aired on March 27th, 2019, on the Discovery Channel at 10 pm. and we focused on Frank Williams’ method, increasing our efficiency, and in general, [the] want of becoming profitable. I believe the overarching theme is the concept that here are these two guys with no experience researching like crazy, consulting with some great distillers across the country and trying their best to nail the science behind the scenes with no shortcuts. Discovery Channel also partially footed the bill for a complete tasting-room redo with a beautiful new bar and marketing displays. It really feels cozy and friendlier than ever,” Joe commented.
The opportunity of being on Moonshiners: WhiskeyBusiness!spotlighted not only Broad Branch Distillery, but our city, too. “This was a great way to showcase our handmade, no-shortcuts spirits created with the science of possibilities and our passion for making the best possible liquor, no matter the consequences. Because if you’re gonna do it, why do it halfway? The uniqueness and vibrancy of Winston-Salem, NC, was also on display in the episode. Our downtown’s growth and its support for ‘makers’ is fabulous. It is a testament to the people of our city and their appreciation for locally handmade quality products,” stated Joe.
Broad Branch Distillery is located at 756 North Trade Street in the Big Winston Warehouse, an old tobacco warehouse, in Winston-Salem, NC.