Our Story

The Foundation

Our Story

Founded in 2013 by President and CEO George Smith and Master Distiller Buck Nance, Copper Barrel opened for business in North Wilkesboro in April of 2015. True to the heritage of Wilkes County, moonshine folk hero Buck Nance designed & fabricated the world’s first legal steam-injected distillation system; which we use to produce our award-winning spirits from ingredients sourced from North Carolina farms & mills. Each batch is then blended with water we extract on-site from the Crystalline-Rock Aquifer to create exceptionally smooth & full-flavored spirits that rival even the most extraordinary whiskies.

Copper Barrel creates handcrafted spirits that are the epitome of authenticity and come from the legendary heritage of Wilkes County – the Moonshine Capital of America. Our 100% true shine is made from a blend of rye, corn and cane sugar using a unique process and still design perfected by Buck. The result is an exceptionally smooth & full-flavored spirit that rivals even the most extraordinary whiskies.

Buck, a true artisan with over 50 years of experience in equipment design, fabrication and operation, oversees production of our truly authentic handcrafted spirits. With over 25 years of experience as a business leader, George serves as the chief visionary and brand ambassador.

Copper Barrel is Wilkes County’s first & finest legal moonshine distillery and the world’s first to produce a legal beverage alcohol using a direct steam-injection distillation process. Many “craft distilleries” use neutral grain spirits; however, every drop of our spirits is made in our still house using grains from North Carolina farms & mills and well water from the Crystalline-Rock Aquifer.

Our flagship White Lightning is a remarkably smooth spirit that gently warms the palate and has an astonishingly clean finish devoid of any chemical after taste. The aroma contains the scent of ripe green apples and the flavor is well-balanced with just a hint of sweetness; which makes this moonshine perfect to enjoy neat and in a wide range of cocktails.