In March 2020, after years of perfecting its distillation process, Cumming-based SpiritsUSA was ready to launch Legends Distillery and its own line of bourbon and vodka. Then the COVID lockdown hit.
“We went into survival mode,” says Vice President Chris Green. “We held on until August when things opened up enough to start shipping.”
Now the distillery, located in Cumming, regularly ships award-winning bourbon, vodka and gin and hosts customers in their 5,000-square-foot tasting room.
Legends Distillery is one of about 30 craft distilleries in Georgia. According to the American Craft Spirits Association, a craft distillery produces less than 750,000 gallons of custom-made batches of spirits annually. In the last 15 years, U.S. craft distilleries have been growing steadily from just 15 to over 2300.
A LEGEND IS BORN
In 2010, SpiritsUSA founding members Michael Gerard, Kenny May (a fifth-generation moonshiner), and Johnny Allen began work on a process to create quality spirits that provide the best customer experience.
“When bourbon is aged for less than four years, too many impurities remain and these impurities are what cause the burn in the back of your throat,” Green says.
These impurities, also known as “congeners,” are produced during fermentation. Some congeners provide the rich flavor in bourbons and other spirits, while others create a fire in the consumer’s throat.
After seven years of trial and error, Gerard, May and Allen perfected and patented their Quantum Purity Technology. Their process—owned by SpiritsUSA and used exclusively in Legends spirits—decreases impurities such as methanol, butanol, and ethyl acetates down to levels never before seen in the industry while allowing the spirit to keep its flavor profile.
“Our process removes these impurities without the need for a lengthy aging process,” Green explains.
Legends’ hashtag, #takeBackThe Morning, reminds customers of an additional benefit of fewwer impurities: a decreased chance of a hangover. Because all Legends’ products go through this patented process, customers drinking their bourbon, vodka and gin can reap this benefit.
In their 20,000-square-foot distillery, Legends currently produces bourbon, vodka and gin. Bourbon is Legends’ biggest product line with an 87 Bourbon, a 100 Double Barrel Bourbon, a 115 Wheated Bourbon and Tyler’s Signature Release. Altogether, these bourbons have won 28 awards. Recently, Legends also teamed up with popular radio and podcast personality Southside Steve to create and promote an additional bourbon, Yeah C’Mon.
But there’s more to the Legends Distillery than just bourbon. The company also produces a vodka made from 100-percent American corn. This vodka, which has won 10 awards, is gluten-free and non-GMO. Highway 19, a gin, was recently added to their product line.
Legends Distillery’s products are sold in stores in Georgia, online at spirithub.com, and in their tasting room.
TASTING ROOM AND GIFT SHOP
Legends Distillery’s 5,000-square-foot tasting room and gift shop meet all the desires of both spirits connoisseurs and dabblers. Customers can sample bourbons, vodka and gin in flights, in classic pours or in traditional cocktails such as Old-Fashioneds, martinis and mules. Legends also serves unique craft cocktails such as a bourbon margarita, a vodka refresher and a sour citrus cooler made with vodka or Yeah C’mon bourbon.
The tasting room, with indoor and outdoor seating, is open Thursday through
Sunday and is available for rent Monday through Wednesday. While Legend’s tasting room doesn’t have its own kitchen, food trucks from either Black Market Barbecue or BBQ Haven are on site.
Each night, customers can enjoy a variety of entertainment in the tasting room. On Thursday, music bingo, cigars and cocktails come together on the patio. Live music is offered Fridays and Saturdays. The one exception is the third Friday of the month when customers sip spirits while listening to nationally known comedians. On Sundays, Blues, Bourbon and Cocktails are a perfect way to transition into the new week.
During the gift-giving season, keep Legend’s gift shop in mind. In addition to spirits, the shop sells hats, t-shirts, barware, decanter sets and gift boxes. As part of Legend’s effort to support the local community, they donate $2 to the Forsyth County Humane Society for every bottle sold in the gift shop.
Would you like to learn more about bourbon or the distillation process? If so, Legends offers walk-in tours and tastings whenever they are open. If that’s not enough, you can become a certified Bourbon Steward.
Every two months, Rod Arnold, the Bourbon Whisperer, teaches a class that combine of a tasting event and a history lesson. At the end of the three-hour class, you take an online exam and receive your certificate.
While Legends’ first few months may not have been easy, they have been riding a wave of success ever since. With four award-winning bourbons, an award-winning vodka and now the addition of a tasting room, Legends Distillery is getting a reputation and it’s all good to the last drop.