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Pinchgut Hollow Distillery

Pinchgut Hollow DistillerySummary: Nestled in a secluded spot off Interstate 79, Pinchgut Hollow Distillery provides a fun experience for spirits enthusiasts. Tastings are very informal. There is a range of products including brandy, whiskey, moonshine and flavored moonshines and whiskeys.

We met Mickey Heston and his daughter, Jenny Heston Heady, at the tasting room on the property. They took us on a tour of the distillery building and spoke about the family’s history of crafting spirits. First, we inquired about the distillery name. The name of the distillery comes from a nearby road called Pinch Gut Hollow Road. It is believed that the name of the road came from a passage that was so narrow that horses would have to squeeze through to pass. Now the road is widened but continues with the name.

Pinchgut Hollow DistilleryThe distillery opened in 2011 in part due to the favorable law changes enabling small farm distilleries. Mickey sources his corn and buckwheat from West Virginia growers. A spring on the property provides the water used in spirits production.

History

The Heston family has a history with spirits making. The bottle of Mason Dixon Monongahela Valley potstill corn whiskey shows an embossed trail from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Fairmont West Virginia. On the trail the Whiskey Rebellion is marked marked below Pittsburg with the date 1789. Near the marking of Fairmont on the trail is The Revival 2010. Although many involvedin the Whiskey Rebellion settled in Kentucky, some settled in West Virginia. The Heston family was deeply involved in production of spirits until 1932.

Mickey Heston, owner of Heston Fam recounted a family story told to him by his uncle Fred Heston. The family was gathered around a coal stove on a damp and cold morning when there was a knock on the door. The man asked if this was the house where someone could buy whiskey. He was told yes. The man turned around and signed a vehicle filled with revenuers holding guns. Some family members scrambled to escape. One uncle left from the second floor and ran down hill to safety. Gun shots only caused him to run faster.

The family had a plan of what to do if caught by revenue agents. The most important was to get rid of any whiskey. One of the children tossed two bottles, the only ones in the house, into the stove. Mickey commented, “They knew what they had to do, but they didn’t know how to do it.” The bottles exploded and caught the house on fire. Several of the revenue agents helped to put out the fire. There was not any other evidence of whiskey in the house. Another family member, Joe Bob who owned a general store, was not as lucky. At the same time, revenue agents raided his store, and just before leaving found a cache of bottles.

During Joe Bob’s trial, his pregnant wife sat in the courtroom. The judge offered freedom if Joe Bob would swear that he would quit producing moonshine. Instead, Joe Bob told the judge to give him liberty or give him death. The judge did neither, but sentenced Joe Bob to a year in the county jail so his family could visit him. This brought an end to the family’s spirits production. The revenue agents never found the still. Today the Heston family is once again making spirits; this time legally.

 

Pinchgut Hollow DistilleryProduction Area

The spirits production area is in a separate building. There are several stainless steel containers and a stainless steel/copper stripping still. The focal point is a copper still. Coils on the inside of the stills provide the heat from steam. Mickey mills the grains outside then makes a beer. The beer is then distilled.

Pinchgut Hollow DistilleryAn item that caught our attention was an unusual glass bottle used for the distillery’s moonshines. The bottle is in the shape of a pig standing on its head. Mickey showed us the evolution of bottles from a sideways pig to the pig standing on its head.

 

 

Spirits

Pinchgut Hollow DistilleryWe tasted several spirits starting with the Grumble Jones Monongahela Brandy. The wine sourced for distillation was mostly Cabernet Sauvignon. The 80 proof (40% alcohol) brandy had a yellow color. It was reminiscent of dried fruits. The mouthfeel was silky smooth and there was heat on the finish. The brandy had a long aftertaste.

Copperhead was a whiskey made from buckwheat, corn and barley and aged in oak barrels. This 84 proof (42% alcohol) whiskey had a light yellow color. The aroma and taste reminded me of grains. The whiskey was sweet with heat on the finish. It had a long aftertaste.

The Honey Peach Moonshine was crafted with corn whiskey and natural flavors. With a clear color the moonshine was very smooth and sweet with hints of honey and peaches. This 70 proof (35% alcohol) spirit had a long aftertaste. It was delicious. There was no heat on the finish.

The Sour Ass West Virginia Rhubarb was made with corn whiskey and natural flavors. The spirit was 70 proof (35% alcohol) and had a red color with orange hue. It was very smooth. It offered flavors of corn and layers of rhubarb. It was reminiscent of strawberry/rhubarb preserves on the finish.

In addition to the distillery, Heston Farms has a winery. An independently owned restaurant is also on the property. Close to Interstate 79, Pinchgut Hollow Distillery provides an assortment of spirits in a relaxing setting.

Pinchgut Hollow Distillery
1602 Tulip Ln,
Fairmont, West Virginia 26554

GPS: N39º 26.5075' W80º 08.6741'

Heston Farm Winery article

 

Article written July 2017.



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