The journey for two brothers starting up the first artisan distillery in Madison County began, fittingly enough, in the Appalachian mountains.
Jerrad and Jason Oakley have been working since 2013 to get their distillery in Edgewood up and running. Just recently, they have reached an agreement with a few local liquor stores, including 69 Liquors in Daleville, Lucky Liquors in Anderson and Mr. G's Liquor Store in Noblesville, to sell their moonshine.
Things are falling into place after a few years of hard work since the brothers first decided this was something they wanted to do.
Jason said they were riding motorcycles in the Appalachian mountains when a flat tire left them stranded on the side of the highway for hours waiting for help to arrive. He said in those hours, he and Jerrad were able to hash out their business plan for a distillery. From that trip, the Oakley Brothers Distillery was born.
"We had always made wine and beer, and we were really familiar with making spirits," Jason said. "So we decided to go for it."
The Oakley brothers currently sell two types of moonshine to the public: a traditional corn whiskey moonshine and an apple pie-flavored moonshine. They are working on a whiskey that will soon be available for purchase as well.
The moonshine process starts with Indiana corn that is brought into the distillery. The corn is mashed up and run through a still to create the clear, 90-proof moonshine that is then bottled. Some of the leftover mash is barreled, where it can age to become whiskey.
In the back room of the distillery, barrels full of whiskey in various stages of completion line the walls, waiting until they've reached the right age. The Oakleys said some of them will sit for years before they are ready.
Most of the distillery looks like a mad scientist's lab, with testers and samples all neatly lined up. The brothers are very committed to making sure the alcohol is as good as it can be.
Getting to the point where they can finally start selling their alcohol took a little longer than the Oakleys expected.
"We thought it might be a six-month process to get on the shelf," Jerrad said. "And it took us a year and a half" to get it into stores.
Countless hours of examining ingredients, building a still and trying to find the right distilling process were poured into the process, but it seems like things are finally paying off.
"It's been fun," Jerrad said. "It's been an interesting process, but it's been fun."
Being a local brand has helped them get into stores and into people's homes.
Kirk Baird, a store manager at Mr. G's in Noblesville, said he likes to support local products, which is why he decided to give Indiana Moon a go. Baird said it is a little too early to tell how the product will be received.
"We're hoping to set up a tasting soon just to let people know about it," Baird said. "They're fairly new so they are feeling their way out."
In addition to Indiana Moon, Baird said Mr. G's also carries Still Moon, a moonshine made in Bloomington.