A group of Cannon Countians is wanting to start a whiskey distillery operation in Cannon County, and has begun the process of getting the approval of citizens and public officials in order to do so.
Billy Kaufman, a local farmer on Short Mountain, and his brothers want to open a distillery on his land. It would be called Short Mountain Distillery, a locally owned and family-funded manufacturer that would create jobs and a sustainable relationship with farmers throughout the county, Kaufman said.
Kaufman has obtained petition papers from the Cannon County Election Office with the hope of securing enough signatures from registered voters in order to be able to put a referendum on the ballot for the November election.
Last year, the state legislature passed a law to help create jobs and open tourism opportunities to counties across the state by allowing legal distilleries like the world famous Tennessee brands Jack Daniel’s and George Dickel. This presents an opportunity that local farmers, land owners and small business owners want to see in Cannon County, Kaufman said.
The law authorizes the manufacture of intoxicating liquors and/or drinks in certain counties that approved both retail package sales and liquor-by-the drink sales and in counties in the river resort district that have approved retail package sales, all by referendum; specifies that certain distance requirements of law will apply to manufacturers under this act.
The group needs 550 signatures from registered voters before the petition can be presented to the Cannon County Commission. Kaufman said they are seeking 580 signatures.
Before the referendum allowing the operation of a distillery can be placed on the ballot, it must first be approved by the county commission, according to Administrator of Elections Stan Dobson.
Dobson also the business would have to apply and be approved for a federal tax stamp before beginning operations.
Kaufman said it is his hope Short Mountain Distillery will bring tourists through Woodbury’s downtown square and to the proposed small batch distillery located on a 10-acre parcel surrounded by farm land on Short Mountain in Liberty. "This opportunity will generate revenue that will stay in our community and help preserve and strengthen a way of life we’ve enjoyed for generations," he said.
"What I want to do is make it a completely local operation by using local suppliers and employing local people," Kaufman said.
For more information about Short Mountain Distillery or on how to sign the petition, visit shortmountaindistillery.com.