Deep in the Chassahowitkza National Wildlife Refuge, with not a single neighbor in sight, Kevin and Natalie Goff are making whiskey.
“We are in the middle of nowhere. We are in the swamps. Our 80 acres is surrounded by 40,000 acres of wildlife management area. We are just a small mom and pop distillery in Weeki Wachee, Florida,” Natalie said.
But this small business just won some big International awards. N-Joy Spirits took home gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition for both their Wild Buck Whiskey and Mermaid Rum.
They are made mostly by hand. They even grow their own rye.
“I think one of the reasons our product is winning awards is the freshness of hand grind grain every day,” Kevin said.
Kevin is a contractor, Natalie a nurse. But now the distillery is their business and their passion.
“How much better can [it] be than making whiskey in the woods?" Kevin said.
They produce about 4,000 bottles a year and handle everything, even using a pool table to label and cork them.
The hope is to quadruple production in the next year and hire more employees to help.
But they don’t want to get too big.
“We weren’t trying to be the next Jack Daniels. We are just trying to be a really high quality whiskey that people would know in the state of Florida, hopefully maybe in the nation some day,” Natalie said.
They are gaining popularity. Bern’s Steakhouse even uses Wild Buck for one of its cocktails.
Hernando County may not be known for producing fine whiskey, but the proof is in the barrels.