Everything about Josh Lindler, owner of JAKAL Distillery, says backwoods, Southern and downhome. That is by design. Located in Lexington, JAKAL produces a line of craft moonshine, corn whiskey and rum, all guided by Josh’s self-taught expertise.
Josh got the idea of making his own moonshine six years ago after buying and tasting other less-than-legal moonshine. He felt he could make a better shine and decided to give it a try. “When I first started,” Josh says, “I didn’t have anyone to teach me, so I taught myself. I read up on the process, kinda learned to pick my way through it.”
Remaining true to the moonshine tradition was important to Josh. In fact, he taught himself the craft like so many before him… in the woods, in the middle of the night with only the company of his still and the moon. He purchased his first still, which was made out of a steel drum, and worked on his process and recipe for an entire year before he felt he had created “his shine.” He admits that he ruined a lot of first batches.
After creating a shine that he felt was better than others he had tasted, Josh found himself in love with crafting his own brew. “At first it was a hobby… something I truly enjoyed; I got a thrill out of it. But of course when you make it elsewhere, you are always paranoid.”
Josh had a long discussion with his wife to determine what it would take to make a living from his passion. Together, they decided it was time to come above ground, pay taxes and go legal.
The process of going legal was a strenuous one for Josh. The equipment inspections, labeling, formula processing and mounds of paperwork took months to complete before Josh was able to get his first product on the shelf of his distillery. When they finally had a sellable product, getting mason jars in the hands of others became his top priority.
Currently Josh does not have a distributor for his product. He’s been working on a deal for the past few months and expects it to come through soon. Meanwhile, he is counting on other moonshine lovers to help spread the word.
“Everything we do is to get people to come through the door. Most people find out about us through word-of-mouth. We also work with local country musicians and artist. We go out to talk to people bars; see what they like. We try to work with bars to come up with drinks that they can sell with my products.”
Lindler still has his day job making corrugated boxes at Interstate Container. He runs his still and mans his store only the weekend, which is when he also greets customers for tastings and tours. His ultimate goal is to have two or three stills running different products three to four days a week. But right now, he is satisfied growing his business slowly and crafting a “quality liquor that everybody can sit around a bonfire with, enjoy and have fun with their friends.”
Written by: Teowonna Clifton