South Carolina

Rum, vodka distillery opening on Hilton Head brings taste of Caribbean to SC

A new distillery that aims to blend traditional Caribbean flavors with American innovation will open on Hilton Head Island this summer.

Hilton Head Distillery, under construction next to Island Winery on Cardinal Road, will produce premium rums and vodkas through a collaboration between spirit makers in the Upstate and the Cayman Islands.

The new business will take some cues from its sister store, Appalachian-inspired Dark Corner Distillery in Greenville, but will have a decidedly tropical bent. Instead of producing whiskey, bourbon and moonshine, Hilton Head Distillery will distill white, dark and spiced rum and a vodka made from the same sugarcane molasses base, says general manager Jillian Stephens.

The business’ three distillation columns, with a total of 49 trays, could produce up to 1,250 gallons a week and 60,000 cases a year, Stephens said.

“We wanted to make sure our technology was a little bit different, that we were creating a new product,” she said.

The company will also offer a few flavored rums, though executive distiller Peter Thompson is still working out what they will be.

After spending more than two months training with the Cayman Spirits Co., sometimes experimenting with recipes by himself late into the night, Thompson has now turned his full attention to Hilton Head.

“This is his crunch time,” Stephens said. “He kind of took from that experience the techniques he wanted to bring over to Hilton Head Distillery and some of the things he wanted to play with on his own and made his own little brainchild.”

Construction is ongoing on the two buildings at 14 Cardinal Road, a 7,500-square-foot warehouse and 5,000-square-foot retail store and storage warehouse.

The property previously housed a gymnastics training center, but has been vacant for several years.

The company will not be without competition, with the Daufuskie Island Rum Company operating in Haig Point since December 2014.

However, some Hilton Head residents may already be familiar with the Dark Corner name, operated by Massachusetts-based company Brass Ring Spirit Brands. The distillery’s Greenville store sells two moonshine-and-punch mixes targeted at South Carolina sports fans, Cock Lightning for the University of South Carolina crowd and Tiger Fire for those who root for Clemson.

More basic moonshine flavors, like apple and peach, are also sold at Rollers Beer Wine and Spirits in Port Royal Plaza on Mathews Drive.

The 750 ml bottles sell for $26, according to customer service representative Jasmine Monge.

The new distillery’s products will be similarly priced, as they are also considered premium liquors, says Leslie Jones, marketing director for Brass Ring Spirit Brands.

“If people are accustomed to the quality that comes out of Dark Corner, they’ll also experience that on Hilton Head,” Jones said.

Rebecca Lurye: 843-706-8155, @IPBG_Rebecca

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