State's First Legal Distillery Opens | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

State's First Legal Distillery Opens


Austin Evans and Richard Patrick are co-owners of Cathead Vodka, the state's first locally distilled legal spirit.

Beginning Wednesday, May 19, Mississippi liquor stores will offer a truly local spirit. Cathead Vodka, the first legally distilled spirit in the state, goes on sale this week, after a nearly three-year development process. The corn-based alcohol is a joint venture of Jackson native Austin Evans and Georgia transplant Richard Patrick.

"This is a project we've been working on for three years," Evans said. "It's something we've always wanted to do—a project we've had in the back of our heads since we've known each other."

Evans, 29, and Patrick, 27, met at the University of Alabama, where both studied business. Cathead Vodka is the first business venture for the duo, and they have enlisted the help of several silent investors.

With no precedent for their idea in Mississippi, Evans and Patrick have had to find their way through the maze of state and federal permits themselves. The state Alcoholic Beverage Control has been helpful, though, Evan says, especially on tax issues.

The two have started with a first bottling run of 2,000 cases. They plan to scale up production once they secure additional permits for on-site distilling at their Gluckstadt facility.

"The main focus we've had is liquor stores, because that's the first cycle of consumers," Evans said. "Some bars and restaurants do purchase through liquor stores, so we couldn't really do bars and restaurants 'til the liquor stores had it. Our next step is to start approaching on-premise sites, which are bars and (restaurants), and hopefully get them to pick it up and carry it and pour it."

Evans describes Cathead's image as "a good old Southern distillery—for a place that's had a bunch of moonshining and illegal distilleries, a real one to represent the state."

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