It was nearly seven years ago that Joe & Roxanne Fenten had the vision for what is now Dark Corner Distillery. At the time, Joe worked as an engineer at Diagio, a major distillery that produces several recognized brand-name liquor labels. Joe watched mass production of spirits by the day. And somehow, it called his name.
One day, Joe came home from work and said “Let’s make moonshine.” Roxanne’s first response summed it up best: “No, I don’t want to go to jail!” Joe was raised in the northeast area of Greenville, where the name for the Dark Corner originated. The area is associated with a rich history of moonshine creation, in the foothills around Landrum. Roxanne had studied food science and was raised in a small family business, so she knew a little about the ups and downs of owning and creating your own venture. Though neither Joe nor Roxanne grew up in a drinking family, they were passionate about history and the science behind distillation. Their humble South Carolina roots brought the vision together for Dark Corner Distillery.
In 2011, they filed for licensing to become the first microdistillery in the Upstate. They bought an 80 gallon copper pot still to produce an authentic corn whiskey – one of the more well-known ways to make moonshine. When they began, the copper pot still ran for six days a week, and sometimes twice a day. After a two week process, the bottling is complete. With an average of 250-300 bottles a week the first couple of years, they were able to evolve their small-batch process into a multi-line operation.
Fast forward to 2018, and now Dark Corner Distillery compliments the rich history of the moonshine business in the Upstate. You’ll find it in the oldest building in downtown Greenville at 14 S. Main Street. They’ve boldly introduced new products beyond just moonshine. The Lewis Redmond whiskeys are aged four years. The name pays homage to the man who not only “ran” Upstate moonshine but was also one of the nation’s most infamous wanted men. There’s the Whiskey Girl Peach that uses South Carolina peaches to make a delicious light summer product. There are seasonal products such as the Wildberry Shine that is enhanced with blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. And one of their most refreshing products is the Jocassee Gin. This incredible herbal spirit is made from local southern ingredients, including citrus, magnolias and honeysuckles, and inspired by the lush terrain surrounding Lake Jocassee.
For those ready for springtime refreshment, here’s a recipe for warm nights, lake life, and outdoor relaxation:
Jocassee Strawberry Lemonade
1.5 oz Jocassee Gin
3 fresh strawberries
3 oz fresh lemonade
Muddle strawberries in shaker, top with Jocassee Gin and lemonade. Shake and pour over ice. Relax and enjoy!