It’s true Brown County has a long history of moonshining and bootlegging, a history that began well before Indiana became a state.
Bear Wallow Distillery owner Susan Spagnuolo says: “We call ourselves the first ‘legal’ still in Brown County, because there were and still are a lot of illicit stills here.”
Similar to those in Brown County’s wooded hills, and following whiskey-making lore, Bear Wallow Distillery is a family affair. Starting the business was an idea of Susan and her husband, Mike, and their son, Adam, is the distiller.
“We have tapped into the history that already was here,” Susan says. “And we created a 100-percent Indiana product that represents the best of Indiana agriculture and pays homage to our rich history.”
Bear Wallow makes each of its whiskeys in small hand-crafted batches using only Indiana grains from farms near the Gnaw Bone, Indiana distillery.
“The Glick Brothers, in Columbus, grow our corn and wheat,” Susan says. “And we get our rye and malted barley from Herr Malt Station in Lebanon. All of our grains are non-GMO and are freshly milled for us by the Glick Brothers, bagged and delivered each month. Nothing else goes into our whiskey but water and yeast.”
The Spagnuolos and their staff mash, distill, age, and bottle all of their spirits at the distillery, producing four kinds of whiskey – Hidden Holler Moonshine (corn whiskey), Bear Trap White Whiskey, Gnaw Bone Bourbon Whiskey and Liar’s Bench Rye Whiskey.
For each batch, Bear Wallow uses 1,800 pounds of Indiana grains and 1,000 gallons of water.
“We use very traditional manual methods to produce our spirits,” Susan says. “We do not have computers running our equipment, we do it all by hand using a hand-crafted, old-fashioned copper pot still, custom designed to make whiskey.”
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