A modern-day moonshiner draws on an old-time source
Chances are if you met Troy Ball on the street, the last thing you’d think is “moonshiner.” But sip the white lightning this energetic businesswoman is whipping up, and you’ll most likely get down on your knees and thank the heavens she’s found her calling.
A Vanderbilt grad, former national equestrian champion, and the mother of three sons—including two with special needs—Ball and her business partner husband, Charlie, have opened Troy & Sons Distillers in Asheville, North Carolina, making what some old-time ’shiners call “real good boot.” Using heirloom Crooked Creek Corn from farmer John McEntire’s land just south of nearby Old Fort, Ball produces an überclean white whiskey with hints of vanilla, cucumber, and melon.
Ball insists much of the credit should go to McEntire and his corn, an American white variety first planted at the McEntire family’s Peaceful Valley Farm in the mid-1800s. “Our product is made in the tradition of a hundred percent corn whiskey, like heritage moonshine,” she says. “We take extra time and produce lower quantities so we don’t sacrifice flavor. We distill in a way that retains the natural flavors of the corn.” Credit also belongs to her Madison County neighbors who toted jars of homemade ’shine to welcome the former Texans when they relocated to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 2004. Some tentative sips later, the Balls realized there might just be a market for a high-quality version, smooth and potent.