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Tarpon Springs Distillery preserves historic Black church for future guests to tour

New site will feature event space, whiskey storage
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Posted at 4:59 AM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 07:50:15-04

TARPON SPRING, Fla. — Tarpon Springs Distillery is smart about its liquor and its history.

The award-winning spirit makers, world-renowned for their boutique ouzo and moonshine, are housed in a building that used to be a sponge warehouse.

There are aquatic reminders of Tarpon Springs' claim to fame all over the cozy tasting room.

The distillery, owned by Lisa and Barry Butler, features a still named "Amazing Grace," which is partially made by reclaimed wood from an old Kentucky church.

"She seems happy with the name," says Barry, giving the lovely Amazing Grace a pat.

But now the distillery's spiritual connections are about to get even deeper.

A short walk down Pinellas Avenue is the former site of the Mount Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church, built there in the 1800s.

The site needs some TLC but the infrastructure and details are still strong.

"We were looking for a barrel aging house, up and down the coast, for 50 miles," says Barry. "Then all of a sudden this church, just 150 yards away, becomes available."

The Butlers are preserving the church with loving detail, and will turn a portion of the building into a museum.

The other parts of the Mount Moriah Barrel House will be an event space and storage for aging whiskey.

Annie Dabbs, Mount Moriah's historian, says the church welcomes the loving outreach.

"It's great to remember your history," she says. "You should always know where you came from."

For more information on tours and tastings at Tarpon Springs Distillery, go here.