Country singer Tommy Townsend grew up listening to stories about his grandfather, Jack “Mimm” McClure, who started making bootleg whiskey during the Great Depression.
“My grandaddy was a famous moonshiner from the 1930s to the 60s,” he says. “Some people called him the ‘John Wayne of the north Georgia mountains.’”
“He would carry the corn and sugar in the woods in an old wagon or a sled,” Townsend adds. “I think he had four or five stills set up all over the mountains.”
He was 2 years old when is grandfather died. The recipes laid around until 2012 when Townsend started his own moonshine business called Grandaddy Mimms.
“We have the original recipes of corn whiskey and apple brandy,” he says. “We have one called Apple Brown Betty, a blended whiskey and a 140 proof called Mule Kickin High Octane.”
The moonshine is sold in liquor stores in Georgia and middle Tennessee but Townsend says his goal is to get it in all 50 states.
He recently opened a gift shop in his hometown of Blairsville, Georgia. “We’ll eventually be making [the moonshine] here, and we will do tastings here hopefully in early 2015.”
When he’s not making moonshine, Townsend’s true passion is making music.
“I met Waylon Jennings when I was 13,” he says. “Now the band is back together after Waylon's passing. I'm their lead singer, and it's called Waymore's Outlaws. We're out touring with Shooter Jennings all over the country now.”
“I think music and moonshine go really well together,” he adds. “What better thing to be doing is drinking when you're listening to music?”