Former NC prison to become distillery

Former North Carolina prison to become distillery. (Southern Grace Distilleries)

CONCORD, N.C. (WNCN) – A North Carolina distillery plans to move into a renovated correctional facility, the company announced.

The company hopes to be up and running this fall – and holding tours in October.

Southern Grace Distilleries will move into a 13,000-plus square foot dormitory of a former North Carolina prison. The company said that will bring a $1.5 million investment into the facility.

The prison operated from 1929 until 2011. There were 198 inmates there at the time, according to local reports, who were moved to other facilities. The prison was closed because of budget cuts and that cost the town 53 jobs.

Southern Grace Distilleries makes Sun Dog 130, a corn whiskey that has won two gold medals at international competitions in the past year.

“We are excited at the opportunity to partner with the award-winning Southern Grace Distilleries to repurpose the old prison. What a novel idea.” said Tom Earnhardt, partner with Mount Pleasant Properties, LLC.,  which has purchased the 22.4 acre former prison from the state. “Since the prison shut down some five years ago, the property was quickly becoming an eye sore.  Renovating this property will create much needed jobs and help stimulate economic development in the area. This is the first of several exciting projects we have been working on for some time.”

Need for additional space for expansion prompted the move. Southern Grace Distilleries has developed and licensed five whiskey products in addition to Sun Dog 130 and the former prison site will allow space for production of all of these as well as an aged whiskey program, the company said.

In addition to the 13,000-plus production facility, the distillery will utilize an original 4830 sq. ft. dormitory that was built in 1929 as a barrel house to age bourbon.

Pending local, state and federal permitting and site approval, the distillery plans to be in the new site by Labor Day and will offer tours in October.

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