Americus craft distillery almost ready to open - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Americus craft distillery almost ready to open

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

AMERICUS, GA (WALB) - As the recession gets worse, there aren't many new manufacturing businesses opening.

But a liquor distillery is almost ready to start making spirits in Americus.

And it will be the only one of its kind in Georgia.

All the equipment is set.

13th Colony Distilleries Partner Gil Klemann said "This is the heart of the distillery. This is the still or the cooker."

Once they get the final state permit, 13th Colony Distilleries will begin making vodka before the end of the month.

Klemann said "There is no other business like it in the entire state of Georgia, and we want to be the first."

Gil Klemann, who retired after 35 years as a Doctor, and three friends started 14 months ago with a dream opening a craft distillery, a smaller more handcrafted manufacturer. Now they are ready to start making Plantation Vodka, and the process starts with the 350 gallon still.

Klemann said "This is the boiler, and we use ethylene glycol to heat the fermented product. Then this main column that goes up is a condensing column, that allows the alcohol to reflux back down to get us to a pure alcohol. There are essentially four different distillation processes there. Then it goes over the top and down through here and this is the water jacket, with a worm in it. And the alcohol comes out here."

All the process from making to bottling will be done in the same facility, and hopefully on store shelves by the first of April.

 Klemann said "We are not trying to compete with the major brands. We want to be the only vodka made in Georgia. And we want to be a vodka a little smoother than most, a little finer than most. Because it will be handcrafted and made in small amounts."

They plan to start with five employees, but hope to soon grow to add gin, rum, and sipping whiskey to their product line. Georgia's first craft distillery opening during the toughest of economic times, bringing new jobs and spirits to the region.

13th Colony also plans to open their distillery for tourism in the coming months as a stop on the SAM shortline railroad.

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