Old Fourth Distillery and the history of Atlanta boozeEdit Post
Contributed by on Oct 19, 2015
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“Atlanta’s distillery.” Right now, it’s true. Old Fourth Distillery IS Atlanta’s distillery – the first legal one we’ve had in more than a hundred years. Back in the day, before Prohibition, Atlanta was by all accounts a booming whiskey town. So booming, in fact, that the hand of Temperance came down hard and strong here, well before Prohibition blanketed the country in a fuzzy whiskey-wanting funk. We went dry. At least by the letter of the law. And no one in Atlanta could conquer the law books and regulatory red tape that pushed us down until Old Fourth Distillery came along. I’m not saying they’re our savior, but now, thanks to O4D, Atlanta may rise once again as a hub of whiskey and spirits production. Rise. Up.
Recently, I headed down to Edgewood Avenue to chat with the O4D gents – Craig Moore, Jeff Moore, and Gabe Pilato. Their micro-distillery sits all shiny behind a welcome room packed with Atlanta distilling memorabilia – the old and the new playing nicely off each other. I knew about the vodka they were distilling down on Edgewood Avenue, the vodka that has been embraced locally by leading bars like Kimball House in Decatur that have been eager for a truly local spirit to serve. And I also knew about the gin they’ve been working up for some time – testing and tasting until they get it just right (that gin should be out before the end of the year, just waiting on the government to catch up and approve the stuff). What I didn’t really get until I visited O4D was the extent to which they have both embraced and literally built upon Atlanta history.
The bead board on the walls, the marble on the counter, the wood in the tables – it’s all repurposed material steeped in Atlanta history, whether from the very same building O4D now sits in (the bead board), or from the gutted John B. Gordon Elementary School down the street that was built in 1909 (the marble). Jeff Moore told me, “We want to protect those kinds of things from being forgotten. It’s part of our story to be related to this area, this city.” Moore went on, and you could tell from his excited intonations that he digs into the minutia when it comes to rooting out the history of his building and the neighborhood...