April 2013

Sea Pines Liquor & Market- 'Moonshine Central'

Author: Michael Paskevich

When Jeff and Debby Gould of Sea Pines Liquor & Market couldn’t score a fresh supply of (legal) moonshine earlier this year, it was time for some sober thinking at the state’s top retailer of the historically potent liquor.

“All of the distributors were out of moonshine because the big liquor stores are finding that more and more customers are requesting it,” said co-owner Jeff Gould. “It didn’t take long for this to catch on… they laughed at us for a year and half, and now they are following the leader.”

And the big boys may have trouble keeping up. Sea Pines Liquor remains on top sales-wise and, following a brainstorm similar to the day they dedicated much of their store to the sale of clear and flavored moonshines, the Goulds are going to start making their own in a copper still that awaits its first flame. “I started to see there could be a big market for us as our own micro-distillery, and learned we can make up to 125,000 cases a year,” Gould said, noting he’ll be using pure mountain spring water.

Paperwork with the U.S. Treasury Department is in progress (paying tax is what makes moonshine legal in contrast to backwoods stills hidden from so-called revenuers), and the waiting period finds the Sea Pines store owners cooking up marketing ideas and securing private labels for their upcoming creations.

And all of this has happened in the past 18 months after a quartet of “little old ladies” wandered in and took a shine to Apple Pie Moonshine, citing sundry health benefits as they carted mason jars out the door.

The Goulds caught a clue and quickly converted the store to moonshine central while still stocking select wines and the top 25 selling spirits. They’ve continued to add the best moonshine available, many flavored with fruits and packing potency ranging from 35 proof to a brain-bending 150 proof. Dan the Moonshine Man sits on a barrel outside the store at Sea Pines Center heralding “free moonshine tastings.”

“Moonshine was not part of our business plan, but there’s quite a bit of buzz going on about it these days,” Gould said. “Now that it’s been legal for about four years, it’s been fun to market; and I finally learned that my wife comes from a background of moonshine makers.”

Customers can purchase miniature oak charred barrels that convert a liter of clear corn whisky to bourbon in just 30 days, and Gould has a patent on a square barrel he calls a “squarel.” The store also stocks foodstuffs and sauces plus moonshine-themed gifts, including clothing and cookbooks.

“It’s a growing business, and there are new products coming out every month,” Gould said. “And it won’t be long before we’ll be making it ourselves.”

Sea Pines Liquor & Market is located at 71 Lighthouse Rd., #611 & 612 and is open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily except Sunday. For more information, call (843) 363-2200.

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