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Sep. 20, 2020
1:10 am


Moonrise Distillery making its mark in Georgia mountains

By Pamela A. Keene 
Sunday afternoons in Clayton are worth the drive up GA 365. Live music, bourbon tastings, hand-crafted barbecue sauce and even bourbon ice cream are all reasons to take a Sunday drive to Moonrise Distillery. 
Purchased in 2018 by Doug Nassaur, who’s also the head distiller, Moonrise Distillery is making its mark in Georgia with the mountains as a backdrop. 
Before he created his trademark bourbon whiskeys and other products at Moonrise, Nassaur was a scientist, engineer and inventor. As an international businessman, he traveled globally and was on the leading edge of developing communications technology. 
“I’m not the retiring kind,” Nassaur said, “but I was spending so much time on planes and in airports that I almost lost track of what was important.” 
Living in Johns Creek, he and his wife Jennifer started looking for something farther north. At first, they settled in Gainesville, but when a distillery facility in Clayton went on the market, he saw his chance. The couple soon purchased what they call their “forever home” in the foothills near Clayton in Rabun County. 
“We had talked about opening a distillery for a couple of years and this was the perfect opportunity,” he said. “Our goal was to create an environment that transported people back to an earlier time when things were made from the land by hand and with pride.” 
Everything is hand-crafted, from putting on the labels, filling the bottles, corking them and sealing each with hand-dipped wax. 
Moonrise makes three bourbon whiskeys – Single Barrel Cask Strength, Distillers Select and Georgia Bourbon Whiskey – plus Distillery Select Rye Whiskey. Additionally, it crafts Georgia Artisan Gin, Distillery Select Vodka and Corn Whiskey. Bourbons are aged in new charred American white oak barrels from a cooperage in Minnesota. 
Moonrise’s Georgia Bourbon Snow Cream is made with cream from a local dairy, is a smooth and tasty after-dinner drink. 
They have five kinds of hand-made ice cream laced with bourbon. Visitors can bring home flavors that include Butter Pecan filled with nut pieces and Chocolate Mint Chip that’s packed with generous chunks of dark chocolate.
Moonrise has also developed bourbon barbecue sauce. 
The newest product is Ready-to-Drink cocktails, including Bloody Marys, Mountain Margaritas, Bourbon Lemonade, and in the Southern tradition Tea Whiskey.
Currently, Moonrise brands are available in about 250 package stores throughout Georgia, including more than four dozen around Lake Lanier: Hometown Spirits, Jax, Village Spirits, Red Barn Package, World Beverage and Wagon Wheel Package. The website lists retail locations across the state.
Tours and tastings are available Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Visitors can also experience tastings on Sundays, as well as music from local talent from 2 to 5 p.m. in the outdoor amphitheater. The distillery is closed on Wednesdays.
“We’re averaging about 2,000 people each month who come up for tours and tastings or to just enjoy a cocktail at our bar or on one of our mountain porches,” Nassaur said. “And Sundays, it’s just a laid-back time with live music and a chance to get to know us a little better.” 
Moonrise Distillery is located at 31 Webb Road, Clayton. The website is

Posted online 8/28/20
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