Dennis Teegardin hopes to open a distillery in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia by the end of the year.
“I want to make it an experience when people visit my distillery,” Teegardin told Russell Mokhiber of This Week in Morgan County. “People are fascinated by the manufacturing of alcohol. I want to educate people about drinking better. I want to launch a Buzz Better Booze campaign. I believe that the buzz is better when you understand the booze.”
“I was in Kentucky recently on a distillery tour. I went into a distillery and the tour guide did not go into any detail about the science of the distillery. I went up to him after and asked him – why didn’t you go into the distillation process? And he said – nobody is interested in the science.”
“I completely disagree with that. I want to educate people about the manufacturing of alcohol in this country and about the distillation process.”
It’s going to be called Teegardin Distilling.
“I’ll start out with a corn whiskey – also known as moonshine. There is a legal form of moonshine that you can produce. When people come in from Maryland and Virginia into West Virginia, I think they expect moonshine. And that’s why my first product will be a white dog moonshine.”
He also plans on making a gin.
“Gin is now popular. Gin is one of my favorite drinks. Right now, bourbons have hit the markets hard, but gin is making a comeback.”
“I’m hoping to be up and running by the end of 2020.”
Teegardin started out working in Morgan County at Berkeley Springs Brew Pub. In October 2019, he moved across the street to Coolfont and became the bartender at the new Coolfont Treetop Restaurant and Lounge.
“What an honor it is to be the bartender there,” Teegardin said. “I do a homemade sour mix that is a little different from what people would expect. It’s well balanced sweet and sour with lemon juice, lime juice, water and then I also use egg whites. The egg whites give my margaritas or my whiskey sours as nice velvety feel in my mouth.”
“I pride myself on using natural ingredients.”
How do you know when you go out and get a margarita whether it is made of natural ingredients or just an industrial mix?
“You can tell from the taste, whether it tastes artificial or it tastes real. You can tell by the mouth feel – if it’s real sugary, if its acidic and coats your mouth. Natural ingredients won’t give you that artificial flavor taste. You can tell by your taste buds.”
What is happening at Coolfont?
“The restaurant and bar are open. We’ve got great food on the menu. I’m slinging cocktails behind the bar. We have 24 beers on tap. It’s the largest selection in Morgan County and one of the largest in the Eastern Panhandle.”
“Twenty rooms are available – eight rooms in the northern wing of the main building – the Treetop Lodge that houses the restaurant and bar. Across the street at the Woodland house are twelve other rooms. Plus there is a swimming pool and workout room.” (Coolfont.com)
“Morgan County is in a time of renaissance,” Teegardin said. “The 2007 and 2008 economic downturn hurt this county drastically. A lot of vacation homes went into foreclosure. A lot of businesses opened and closed. Right now we are seeing the economy take off again. Unemployment is down. And although there is a looming recession for next year I don’t think it’s going to be nearly as severe as the one over a decade ago. This town is on the cusp of a renaissance. I would like to be a part of that.”