IN THOMPSON’S STATION
“The first spirits legally produced and sold in Williamson County in about 110 years will be available soon,” says H Clark Distillery owner, Heath Clark. And not only that but Thompson’s Station has gained a new and vibrant industry it hasn’t seen in over a century. H Clark Distillery is located right off of Thompson’s Station Road and is operated by Heath Clark and his wife, Becky. The distillery offers a variety of spirits from Tennessee bourbon, Tennessee rye whiskey, Tennessee dry gin and new whiskey. The bourbon and rye are both aging and will be available once they are ready. The Tennessee dry gin is 88 proof (44 percent alcohol by volume) and their new whiskey is 80 proof (40 percent alcohol by volume). The name of the two products they are offering are H Clark Tennessee Dry Gin and H Clark’s New Whiskey and they are both available at select retailers now.
Heath’s love for the distilling process has lead him down a long road to owning his own distillery, including working on state laws to allow craft distilleries to operate in Tennessee. The fascinating process behind their new spirits is painstaking at times and requires, well, alot of patience. The still is open for tours as well as tastings and the Clarks are proud of the quality and history behind their new liquors. In describing the new whiskey, Heath explains, “We start by making an oatmeal stout beer. It’s our blend of oats, malted barley and coffee roasted stout malt. This is a beer inspired by Samuel Smiths Oatmeal Stout beer. We distill that spirit two times to create a smooth whiskey with a subtle malt and coffee flavor. Our Tennessee dry gin, (a full-flavored London-style dry gin), starts by steeping our propriety blend of botanicals, including juniper and coriander, in pure grain alcohol. That steeped botanical blend is then distilled with only the best hearts of the spirit being selected for bottling.” Bourbon is being made every week at the distillery. “The first releases will likely be ready in a year or so,” Clark says. “I make all my whiskey at the distillery, as opposed to sourcing already made and aged whiskey and putting my label on it, so every day the weather right here in Williamson county is affecting that whiskey. When it’s ready will depend on the heat, humidity, temperature fluctuations and barrel size. The young bourbon already tastes really good. I can’t wait for the first fully matured barrels to be ready,” he says.
It has taken more than two years to get the distillery up and running and the Clark family feels the adventure has been harder than they ever imagined.
Heath actually started working on starting a distillery six years ago and at that time, it was illegal to distill anywhere but Moore, Coffee and Lincoln Counties. Having grown up around Jack Daniels and George Dickel distilleries, he was really enamored with the process of making whiskey and has always had a passion for the process. “I enjoyed talking about it so much my colleagues challenged me to quit talking about it and to go make it happen,” says Clark. This passion led Clark to o encourage state legislators to pass legislation he and other aspiring distillers including Williamson County’s own Mike Williams, championed. In time, it was signed into law and helped launch the craft distilling boom in Tennessee. “The bill’s passage was followed by some false starts, restarts and lots of mistakes. When the Town of Thompson’s Station offered to make the old granary available, I knew I’d found a home. What better place to make whiskey than an old grain barn next to the railroad tracks? I had to evict a snake, a couple groundhogs and lots of termites before it was ready for distilling. But here we are. Licensed, legal and working hard everyday to make a product the people of Thompson’s Station and Williamson county can be proud of.” Come out and taste a new piece of Tennessee history at H Clark Distillery.
H Clark Distillery
1557 Thompson’s Station Road West
Thompson’s Station, TN 37179615.478.2191