Florida Whiskey

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By: Mike Vasilinda
June 21, 2013

Rum made from citrus to whiskey made with Florida corn, craft distilleries are popping up in the state. Beginning July first, new legislation will allow the distilleries to sell two bottles a year directly to customers. The law is designed to promote another kind of tourism.

For twenty years, Dick and Marti Waters worked to support their dream of fledgling farm. Then Marti heard about farmers in Iowa distilling vodka. She called Dick at work. “I said, ‘Honey, I got a job for you.’ He said ‘What?’ I said ‘making whiskey.’ He said ‘Hey, sounds good to me,’” says Marti Waters, a whiskey distiller.

That was six years ago. “We get this one from Florida co-op.” Now the two are producing five hundred cases of Palm Reserve Whiskey a year. “Good whiskey comes off the still. You cannot put bad whiskey in a barrel and let it sit and it turn into good whiskey. It doesn’t happen,” says Dick Waters, Whiskey Distiller.

What makes their product so unique and so smooth is these five gallon barrels. Used just once, the whiskey picks up the sugar from the oak and gets its color from the charred wood.

Think of it as if they are birthing a baby here, it takes about nine months from beginning to end for the whiskey to be ready. Getting a license wasn’t easy in 2007. First they called the state. “Do you want to do what? They couldn’t believe it,” says Dick Waters.

Once the state said yes, the Waters needed approval from the county. “And went to the clerk and the clerk says, ‘You can’t do that’” says Dick Waters.

“The county commissioners told us to think outside the box, and he said, ‘This is damn sure outside the box’” Dick Waters said.

The rest is history. The work is hot and long. “So if your wife calls you and says ‘Let’s make whiskey for a living…’ It’s kind of a no-brainer, ain’t it ? You know, you go ‘Okay, well let’s try that.’” said Dick Waters.

Now they do quite well.

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