A Love Story Between Two Men, A Legacy And Moonshine
When Chuck Butler sent me a carton of his TazaRay spirits, I had already fallen in love with his story (see video above) -- son legitimizing as well as transforming the work of his lifelong moonshining daddy into a respectable company. Now, all I needed to do was to fall in love with his drink to consider doing an interview for THREAD MB. I would soon find out that, that wouldn’t be difficult at all as would so many of my family members and friends. TazaRay makes other hard liquor choices go dark.
“Why,” you may ask? Because not only is this nectar ‘made of sunflowers’ some of the strongest liquor I’ve ever sampled (no exaggeration), but its versatility is stellar. Whether you drink it straight out of a shot glass, mix it in a drink or add it to your cappuccino, TazaRay shines...and powerfully so. It also tastes damn good and is gluten-free for all those concerned with that variable.
It will warm you up for certain and warm up-to-you as well. Too much of it will knock you out, matter of factly. It’s exactly what you would expect from this one time bootlegging family and veterans, whose honor and respectability has never wavered despite the times or the legalities involved in their trade.
The Butler family are “good” people and they make a great spirits. Read Chuck Butler’s interview below to learn more.
Share who you are and what you do at Dalton Distillery.
I am the founder and CEO of Dalton Distillery, located in Downtown Dalton, GA. My Dad serves as the Master Distiller. He really enjoys visiting with all of our customers. He also enjoys teaching my son, Charles Raymond Butler (Trey) III, how to make a good, clean, authentic distilled spirit.
Share the one statement that encompasses everything Dalton Distillery is about?
We don’t consider what we do work but the opportunity to share a great product in which our family’s heritage is deeply rooted.
What is it about your family that makes you so proud and desirous of continuing the family business.
My family has been making whiskey/spirits for as long as I can remember. My Dad began working with my Grandfather when he was six years-old. We’ve all worked hard to perfect what we do. I started the process of establishing
Dalton Distillery in 2013. By 2015, we were approved and distilling product.
Where did the name TazaRay come from?
I grew up learning respect, including for our nation’s Native American heritage. The sunflower is the true native crop of North America. Native Americans used sunflowers to make oil, bread, butter and other things. My family always used a small portion of sunflower seeds to make illegal whiskey. It adds a truly distinct taste. The Son of Chief Cochise was Taza who was a worrier and chief. Ray is short for my Dad's name “Raymond.” Hence, TazaRay.
For those who have never tasted TazaRay, explain the flavor that they can expect from this sunflower seed-based spirit(s).
TazaRay is a truly unique Georgia-grown, gluten free and NON-GMO aged spirit. We age TazaRay in used bourbon barrels. TazaRay Red is aged in used red wine barrels. Both are bottled at 90 proof or 45% ABV. Everything is based on taste. When we are distilling the product, the top quality spirit is placed into either a bourbon barrel for aging or placed in the red wine barrel. While aging we will sample around 8 months and sometimes move the barrels rotating them in different positions in the warehouse. TazaRay normally is a dark gold color which it receives from the bourbon barrel; you can get a mild hint of smoke with a nutty finish. TazaRay Red is aged until we have a dark red color that it receives from the residual red wine. You will get a berry odor and a heavy strong nutty finish.
How would you best recommend drinking TazaRay?
We are a small company so when people ask us what the correct way to drink TazaRay is, we let them know we are grateful for all of our customers and if you choose TazaRay or TazaRay Red there is no right or wrong way to drink it. Myself, I enjoy drinking it neat. If you try it at room temperature, I feel you can get more flavor and taste the barrel and sunflower seeds. If 90 proof is a little much for you, there are plenty of other ways to drink it, including chilled or mixed. My Dad and I host and share a video on YouTube (#TazaRayTuesday) where we make easy very simple fun cocktails to try. You can also search us on Vimeo where we have several professional cocktail videos.
Describe the experience visitors can expect when they visit Dalton Distillery.
Myself and my Dad are normally at the Distillery Tuesday thru Saturday. People really enjoy visiting with my Dad. From hearing some stories of him delivering illegal whiskey on the school bus to his teacher to the time he was arrested and paid for his legal fees with illegal whiskey. At 75 years of age, my Dad loves spending his time at the distillery or visiting establishments and telling people about our product. If you are ever in North Georgia stop in and visit us at 109 East Morris Street, Dalton, Georgia. We are open Monday thru Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM.
What's the cost per bottle and where/how are you currently retailing (states, stores, online)?
TazaRay or TazaRay Red are offered in most liquor stores in Georgia and Tennessee, priced between $28.99 to $31.99 per bottle.
How does TazaRay give back?
As my father is a Vietnam Veteran, we’ve involved ourselves in the raising of funds for The Boot Campaign.
When all is said and done, how do you want Dalton Distillery and your family-name to go down in history?
My goal is for Dalton Distillery to be a legacy for my grandfather and my Dad and a place where my son can work.
The only cautionary word I have when drinking TazaRay is not to assume that the bottle’s flowery label indicates that this spirit is made for pansies. If you do, you will surely find yourself hanging over the traditional family porcelain for sometime, and I don’t mean a tea cup.
Many thanks to Chuck Butler and Dalton Distillery for making this interview possible.