Partnership creates George Jones' White Lightning Moonshine
By Michael Bradford
MARSHALL COUNTY, Ky. -
A country music legend's estate and a local distillery have partnered using moonshine to drum up big business in a dry county. "The last attraction I thought we'd ever have in Marshall County is a moonshine distillery," said Randy Newcomb with the Kentucky Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau.
White Lightning was a number one single for George Jones. Now, it's a brand of moonshine bearing his name. Tuesday, Jones' widow and the owner of a local distillery announced their partnership and debuted plans for a liquor brand that could create an economic boost.
Outside of Calvert City, Kentucky Dam Village is the only place in Marshall county where people can buy a drink. That made it the perfect place for Nancy Jones and Spencer Balentine to debut George Jones' White Lightning Moonshine.
The 100 proof spirit is made at Silver Trail Distillery in Marshall County, a place Newcomb said is giving the local economy a big boost. "Spencer's done an amazing job actually bringing one of the biggest industries in the commonwealth to Marshall County. We couldn't be prouder," he said.
Balentine owns the distillery and said the moonshine will eventually be distributed nationally. "If we do half the case quantity they're talking about, we're gonna have to really ramp up," he said. That means they'll need more stills and between 20 to 25 more workers. "Distilleries are really labor intensive. We're basically taking a grain of corn all the way through to the glass. So, there's opportunities for jobs," Balentine said.
It's also an opportunity to keep Jones' memory alive. His widow said, "I intend to carry on George's legacy, and I couldn't choose anything any better. From the welcome I got tonight, I think I chose the right place." The man is a legend and now, he's a brand for moonshine and Marshall County.
Nancy Jones received the first bottle of White Lightning. Tuesday evening, Marshall County Judge Executive Chyrill Miller was presented with the second bottle. Her husband, Michael, was the one who signed the paperwork that allowed Balentine to start his distillery in Marshall County years ago. They're working on expanding the brand to include vodka, bourbon, and wine.
You can find George Jones' White Lightning Moonshine at the LBL Moonshine Museum in Hardin.