Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel, left, presents a ceremonial seed capital matching grant check to Saundra Hamilton, owner of Down Home Spirits, LLC, right. In the center is J.R. Hamilton. They are pictured in front of the still which will manufacture the moonshine produced by Down Home Spirits LLC.

HAYSI, VA – APRIL 28, 2020A recipe passed down through several generations will be used to make the moonshine Down Home Spirits LLC, a new moonshine distillery in downtown Haysi, Va., offers to locals and tourists alike. The new business, owned by Saundra Hamilton, will also focus on the history of moonshine. Down Home Spirits LLC was approved for a Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority $10,000 Seed Capital Matching Grant.

The new business, located at 210 Main Street in Haysi, plans to begin production in early May, Hamilton said.

“VCEDA’s seed capital matching grant program was established to assist entrepreneurs to grow their business plans in the region and to add to employment in the region at the same time,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “Down Home Spirits LLC projects five full-time and two part-time jobs by the end of their second year.”

Hamilton noted Down Home Spirits will offer thimble-size samples to those visiting the newly renovated space in Haysi where any one of a number of flavors – from apple butter and peach to coconut, blackberry and blueberry, strawberry and watermelon moonshine – may be purchased.

A copper still will be utilized to make the moonshine which will be offered for sale not only at the new business, but also through an e-commerce website.

J.R. Hamilton, noted the basic recipe for Down Home Spirits moonshine is one that comes from his great-grandfather, who was a moonshiner. Natural spring water is used.

“It’s not a mass-produced taste,” he said. “The moonshine will be made in a 150-gallon copper still which is state of the art.”

The still is located beside the tasting room and visitors have an opportunity to get a look at it through a window looking from the tasting room to the fermenting room.

Once the current restrictions in the state related to COVID-19 are lifted, Down Home Spirits plans to open and to offer special events and music monthly. Everyday operating hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Additionally, merchandise will be offered for sale and historical heritage educational information will be made available related to the history of moonshining.

Future plans also include on-site tastings, catering services and to rent out space in a conference area next door for weddings and other gatherings.

With its ABC license now in hand, Saundra Hamilton said Down Home Spirits will initially use the still to produce the alcohol needed to make hand sanitizer while it finalizes a contract with ABC to be able to sell its moonshine in state ABC stores. Down Home Spirits will produce the hand sanitizer on site in an effort to meet the demand related to COVID-19 for that product right now and until such time as the ABC contract is finalized.

The seed capital funds approved for Down Home Spirits, she said, will be used for inventory and equipment at the Main Street space. Hamilton worked with Margie Douglass at the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College in preparing her application to VCEDA. The Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority also provided a letter of support for the project.

“The VCEDA funds will help us with the purchase of corn, bottles, labels, sugar and the other ingredients that go into making flavored moonshine,” Saundra Hamilton said. “We will also use it toward the purchase of a cash register, security system and a printer/scanner/copier. It will help us tremendously. We wanted to do this, to try to keep it local and to help the economy here.”

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vaceda.org  or www.e-Region.org.

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.