The Oldest Distillery in the State of North Carolina
The Thomas Rogers Distillers continues a rich family heritage in spirit distillation and production rooted in history as the first legal still in North Carolina after Prohibition. The Rogers family first obtained land from the Earl of Chatham in the early 1700s for certain lands on and around Hickory Mountain, which is located in what is now Chatham County, North Carolina. The Rogers operated the still on this land for over two centuries, producing liquor for their own personal use and for consumption by others in the area. Their liquors maintained their popularity throughout the years, even during and despite Prohibition. After the repeal of Prohibition, the Rogers were granted the right to operate the first legal still in the State of North Carolina. They found partners in the McMath family, also from Chatham County. The Rogers operated the still and distillery business until the late 1940s.
After many generations, the Rogers distilling tradition is revived in 2009 by William Rogers and family as well as Alexander Julian, also of Chatham County family heritage. The two North Carolina natives share common roots in the Orange and Chatham areas, having been schoolmates in the 1960s. As the times have changed, they have both aimed to contribute to preserving local tradition while at the same time developing business that allows for positive growth. Continuing on this path, TRD will combine traditional craftsmanship and modern distilling equipment and techniques with local influence. Alexander Julian will lend creative talent and direction in design and product image while William Rogers will contribute experience in product development and production. The company's mission is to produce handcrafted distilled spirits, utilizing the family's heritage liquor recipes, state-of-the art distillery equipment and local ingredients from the State of North Carolina. TRD's product line will include Queen Anne's Revenge, an aged, richly spiced rum inspired by North Carolina's Blackbeard, the infamous Edward Teach, Cloud9, an organic rainwater vodka distilled nine times for ultimate smoothness, Dirty 5 Thirty, a flavorful North Carolina Bourbon Whiskey, and Dos Perros 100% pure agave tequila.
In The News
Article from the Chatham County News / Chatham Record, August 25, 2011:
Proposed distillery could bring 50 jobs to county
By Randall Rigsbee
With Chatham County suffering a major economic blow with the impending closure of the Townsends poultry plant, the timing couldn't be better for some good news.
There may be some in two people's plans to open a distillery on a 10-acre farm property in Pittsboro.
The distillery, which needs to clear a potential zoning hurdle first, would employ between 30 and 50 people in farm-related jobs, according to local real estate agent Cindy Dameron, who is representing the buyer of the property in the real estate transaction.
Thomas Rogers Distillery is eyeing the 10.82-acre T.C. Justice farm off Old 87 in Pittsboro, Dameron said.
Dameron addressed the Chatham County Board of Commissioners regarding the plan last week, asking commissioners for their assistance in zoning the property to allow for the new venture.
Bill Rogers, who along with Alexander Julian is a principal in the project, also spoke to commissioners, explaining that the distillery would create all the materials it needs on site and utilizing the property's own well water.
"We're a farm that's in the distillery business," Rogers said.
He noted that the operation could employ as many as 50 people in agricultural jobs, "jobs that we desperately need in the county," he said.
Because the operation would be a farm, the zoning of the property may not be an issue. The county attorney planned to look into the matter and Board of Commissioners chairman Brian Bock said county officials would clarify the issue.
The proposal already has the support of the Office of the Governor.
"It is with pleasure that I write to you on behalf of the Governor's Policy Office to indicate our support for the Thomas Rogers Distillery project in Chatham County," begins a letter by the governor's policy director, Michael Arnold, dated August 12.
Arnold notes he met with the distillery's two principals "and I believe that this distillery would be a welcome addition to the economic landscape of Chatham County."
He further noted that "micro-distilleries have proven to be a burgeoning job-creation engine in a number of states, and I believe that we should seize such opportunities when possible."
Rogers said the distillery would produce vodka and whiskey.