Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of stories about the local businesses in the City of Fairborn, putting a face to the names of those that have been part of the community for many years and some of those well-kept secrets.
FAIRBORN — For those of you who may not know, Stillwrights Moonshine is a Flat Rock Spirits Distillery. They got their license in 2011 and barreled their first bourbon in March 2012. The owners of the Distillery are brothers Brad and Shawn Measel and their cousin, James Bagford.
They had an industrial construction rigging company that had been a great family-owned and operated company for about 30 years. They worked areas around Dayton and as businesses moved out, and started out sourcing work, they decided they needed to get into something that was a little more recession resistant and that would work well with economic downturn. They said, “When the economy doesn’t do well, booze still sells.”
They chose Fairborn because the family’s construction business was already set up in the city, so they had the property. Fairborn had been good to them for about 30 years, so they decided to continue the relationship.
During the last two years of their construction business, when they were thinking about the distillery, they studied the making of spirits by taking classes reading numerous books.
These classes involved a lot of travel. The first class was Delaware Phoenix Distillery in the state of New York. They interned a week here, then did the same in Indiana and Kentucky. Brad said he went down to Kentucky and had a 40-hour course with Dave Pickerel, head distiller from Makers Mark, a very successful distillery.
When Stilllwrights started, they experimented and took notes, sampling and tasting to see what was best. Their products hit the shelves in five stores in the Dayton area. In the past six months, they have increased this number to around 60 stores in Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus, Springfield and Toledo.
They had to go to a meeting with the liquor controlling agency and tell them about their company, their business plans and marketing for the future. Then they decided how many of their products they would be interested in taking into the state store. They have nine products in a couple of state stores. Then there are seven of the original products (five flavored moonshines, clear moonshine and the bourbon) that are in 40. The rest will choose and pick what they think their public will want for remaining stores. Bourbon is his best seller, while Apple Pie Moonshine comes in second.
They sat up at Quaker Steak & Lube in Fairborn on Bike Night last year to let people know that they are in Fairborn. They were giving out information regarding location, tours and what products they make. Most were surprised, as no ever suspected to find something in Fairborn that is so popular in bigger cities and tourist towns.
Tours began in last April and now run every Saturday at 1 p.m. for an hour and a half. They enjoy telling the history of the distillery and the making of the brew while touring the plant showing you how it is made and the processing.
Visitors can arrange for tours, which include sampling. The tours are family friendly and educational and no samples are given to anyone under age. They are able to accommodate 15 people on the tour more must make arrangements in advance, so they can set up for larger group in the bigger room. Tour prices vary on what you want included in your tour, and a portion of the proceeds go to a local charity.
This family business started in Fairborn almost 30 years ago, and it didn’t let the economy stop it from being successful and leaving town. It adjusted to a different trade and with hard work and determination it has found success.
This is what America is built on: hope, hard work, pride and love. This is how Fairborn can grow: with people who are willing to work and provide for their family and have the drive and determination to succeed.