The way back

 

 

As far as we know, the story of ASW Distillery begins in a number of places: Ireland. France. England.

Ireland

In the 1700s, an Irish native we'll call Searlas Tompson tasted uisge beathe for the first time, a batch smuggled by the light of the moon to evade King George I's whiskey tax collectors. Whether it was the taste or the danger or both, Searlas could not shake whiskey from his mind or his palate (part of this may have been its 130 proof). The liquid's warmth powered him through the damp winter and slowed time during the summer, brightening each season in its own way.

As rents climbed on the Isle of Eire, Searlas and his family sought out the fertile expanses of Pennsylvania, a region that soon became famous for its rye whiskey. Of all the gifts Searlas' children inherited, perhaps his taste for whiskey was the most appreciated. 

France

Yet the story of ASW Distillery begins, too, in France in the early 1700s, when a local we'll call Jacques Chastain had his first sip of brandy at the age of eleven, fresh from the alembic still on a cool Autumn morning - a morning of Marennes-Oleron oysters and fresh-baked bread. Brandy-making was one of the time-honored traditions of this area of southwest France, a trade once imported from The Netherlands and farther shores. 

From the first sip that cool morning before tending to the sheep, Jacques knew he'd found his calling: enjoying brandy. When he and his family later sailed for the French Huguenot coast of South Carolina, Jacques stowed his taste for brandy and brought it with him. 

England

The final wrinkle in the story of how ASW Distillery came to be finds us on the shores of England in the 1600s, where a French Huguenot we'll call Justin Wingo landed in hopes of escaping religious persecution in France. Monsieur Wingo - whose surname in French means "wine maker" - set sail for Virginia a few years later. In Haralson County, Georgia, years later, the daughter of a well-known whiskey maker and hauler by the name of Buck Wingo married a Manglitz who'd descended from Saxon and Irish immigrants. 

Although prohibited by the families from discussing his whiskey-hauling history, Buck let just enough slip over the years to inspire a young Justin Manglitz to take up the trade. 

 

The Newer Developments

Over the years, Jacques', Searlas', and Justin's families all trickled towards the southern highlands like a pristine mountain creek flowing down the Appalachians, but their appreciation for spirituous elixirs remained steadfast.

University of Georgia

Such appreciation found new life, when friends Jim Chasteen and Charlie Thompson (that's us) found we shared a common love for whiskey while at The University of Georgia. 

From Scotch and Irish whiskey, to bourbon and rye, we spent a great deal of time enjoying the company of friends while searching for clarity in aqua vitae. These experiences led us to what seemed the only logical next step - creating our own whiskey. 

From these modest beginnings, we created a recipe for a smooth-drinking and versatile whiskey that we came to call American Spirit Whiskey.

Happenstance

We might have stopped here had we not - somewhat by chance - met Justin Manglitz, a University of Georgia graduate himself and a masterful, self-taught brewer.

Around 1990, Justin's parents had moved from Haralson County to Athens, Georgia, eventually settling on land adjacent to Jim's folks. In high school, Justin's older sister became friends with Jim.

As Jim graduated and went on to an illustrious whiskey-sipping career at the University of Georgia, Justin - still in short pants - took a keen interest in the art and science behind booze - an interest attributable to the aforementioned Buck Wingo. Justin began crafting booze during time off from his college days at UGA. After he graduated, he opened his own homebrewing store in Athens called Blockader Homebrew Supply - not exactly a cash cow, but a great way to source half-price grains for perfecting his booze-producing passion.

Soon, we launched American Spirit Whiskey and began the hunt for a place to open a distillery in the heart of our new hometown, Atlanta. But we still needed someone to head our production - someone with years of experience using grains to make exquisite tipples. Jim's sister suggested Justin, whose dream for years had been to graduate from homebrewing to craft distilling. Strangely enough, although Justin and Jim had grown up exploring the same thistle-littered fields, attended the same high school, and shared a common love for whiskey, the introduction by Jim's sister was the first time we'd ever met.

We haven't looked back since and hope our enthusiasm for spirits and our commitment to our motto - Crafted with Character - shines in every glass. 

 

Our mission

 

Do what you love

We live by the creed Do what you love. Though we've tried other spirits, we find ourselves returning time and again to whiskey and brandy. This is why we devote all our efforts to them. We believe that only by doing what you love can you truly create a work of art that - without a doubt - can be described as Crafted with Character.

Worthwhile endeavors require effort

Over the years, we've found that we value most what has taken substantial effort to achieve. True to form, our chosen path as whiskey and brandy purists has not been easy. Our first product, American Spirit Whiskey - though a smooth, clear, cocktail-friendly whiskey - is not familiar to many at first. But we have remained committed to providing folks with a delicious, smooth-sipping alternative to vodka and have tirelessly worked to spread the word.

Honor tradition, embrace innovation

To distill spirits is to continue a tradition born in the Middle Ages and perfected tirelessly throughout the centuries by monks, moonshiners, and master distillers. At its most basic, the science of distillation requires only water, yeast, flame, and grain (or, in the case of brandy, fruit). But the art of distillation requires much more: patience, tenacity, innovation. We believe much remains uncharted in the craft of distilling spirits - new grain profiles, new distillation and aging techniques, new flavors, and ultimately, entirely new experiences for those who enjoy a dram. By constantly re-evaluating traditional methods, we hope to contribute in some small way to the discoveries that await.

The Distillery was the original startup, and with us, we hope to keep the innovation flowing.

 

Our fearless leaders

Jim Chasteen

"We're making whiskey, not digging ditches." Former Real Estate Man turned beard sporter.

"We're making whiskey, not digging ditches."

Former Real Estate Man turned beard sporter.

Founder & Licensed Bootlegger

Charlie Thompson

"A good whiskey chase never goes astray." Recovering lawyer, with occasional relapses.

"A good whiskey chase never goes astray."

Recovering lawyer, with occasional relapses.

Founder & Licensed Bootlegger

 

Our supporting cast

Kelly Chasteen

"Her name was Maude and she drank whiskey all day from a fruit jar under the counter." Design expert & throwback vehicle enthusiast (Scouts, Airstreams, you name it)

"Her name was Maude and she drank whiskey all day from a fruit jar under the counter."

Design expert & throwback vehicle enthusiast (Scouts, Airstreams, you name it)

Head of Retail & EVENTS

Justin Manglitz

"Whiskey slows time and stops tyranny." From booze beginnings in a barn to Athens' home brew supply store to grain whispering at ASW, the trail has never gone cold.

"Whiskey slows time and stops tyranny."

From booze beginnings in a barn to Athens' home brew supply store to grain whispering at ASW, the trail has never gone cold.

HEAD DISTILLER & Lead fiddle

 

Chadwick Ralston

"My favorite subject is history. My favorite pastime is whiskey." Another recovering attorney with a backbone in software and a background in the written word.

"My favorite subject is history. My favorite pastime is whiskey."

Another recovering attorney with a backbone in software and a background in the written word.

Head of Growth & Grassroots

Josh Anderson

"Whiskey is liquid sunshine. I'm solid sunshine." A one-time pilot of the skies, now steering ASW sales on the ground.

"Whiskey is liquid sunshine. I'm solid sunshine."

A one-time pilot of the skies, now steering ASW sales on the ground.

Head of Sales & Pilot in Command

 

Casey Teague

"My favorite whiskey is the one in my glass."

"My favorite whiskey is the one in my glass."

BRAND AMBASSADOR & WHISKEY EXPERT

 

The roundtable

Tucker Berta-Sarkisian

PR & Marketing Extraordinaire for SweetWater Brewing Co.

PR & Marketing Extraordinaire for SweetWater Brewing Co.

 

Katie Kittredge

Former executive with Diageo for 10 years. Needs 2 hands to count the languages she speaks

Former executive with Diageo for 10 years. Needs 2 hands to count the languages she speaks

John Stephenson

Former President of the College Football Hall of Fame. Current Director: Strategic Partnerships & Special Projects at Chick-Fil-A

Former President of the College Football Hall of Fame. Current Director: Strategic Partnerships & Special Projects at Chick-Fil-A