28 May 2023
Buffalo City Distillery in Point Harbor, just a few miles past the Wright Memorial Bridge,just opened last year, but they already have some pretty good spirits on hand.
In a lot of ways what Buddy Byrum and his wife Sharon are doing is throwback to the way whiskey was made 200 or 250 years ago back when our country was founded. Back then, about the only way to preserve corn and get it to market was turn the corn into whiskey.
Like those early farmers, Buddy grows his own corn—in Hyde County in this case, turns into mash and creates his own spirits.
The most of the first distilling is sitting in barrels in the back room, waiting for it to become the perfect whiskey to make bourbon, because that is what Buddy is going to make.
That makes sense, since by law, bourbon must be at least 51% corn whiskey and since he likes bourbon anyway and he was already more than halfway there, well, why not bourbon.
Buffalo City is, of course, named after the famous, or infamous, Prohibition location of some of the finest bootleg whiskey that was made during that period. That’s Buffalo City, Dare County mainland. For the residents that ;ived back in the dense forest and swamp, there were’t a lot of options; logging had given out, roads were primitive and often impassable, but the waterways leading to Alligator River offered a sure way to get their product to market.
They made mostly rye whiskey—that’s what the East Coast markets asked for and “East Lake Whiskey” was a hot commodity in the 1920s.
Buddy in a way has brought that back with his East Lake Whiskey. When make from the very first corn he mashed and blended with a North Carolina rye, it’s a very good whiskey with a strong rye finish. The blend is really designed to carry the Distillery through until the bourbon can be bottled, so stop by and grab a bottle.
At the retail store they also sell a vodka, distilled from Buddy’s corn. The distilling process if much more involved to make vodka than bourbon, but it’s not aged so it’s ready right away.
Certainly if the opportunity presents itself, a tour and a tasting is a perfect way for a few adults to spend some adult time while on vacations.