The term, "moonshine," conjures up visions of folks from yesteryear in the Appalachian region creating their own spirits in defiance of the United States government. Although that's how the word came into use, moonshine today is a commercial product with many varieties that's been legal in America since 2010.
Joe and Janelle Marcotte are introducing their variety of moonshine to the West Coast with the establishment of Marcotte Distilling in Philomath. Joe Marcotte is entering the alcohol product market after operating a trucking business for about five years. But it wasn't an easy decision.
"I wouldn't give up driving and didn't want to give up my seat or any part of the business," he said. "It became overwhelming for our family and our three kids and so when we sold out about a year and a half ago, we got rid of our trucks, got rid of our drivers and went in a different direction."
It wasn't long before Marcotte said his wife commented, "You're going to have to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life."
Marcotte and his wife had a couple of conversations and did some research on different businesses. Plus, his mother was in retail for about 30 years in Corvallis and represented another resource.
"We took a look at this and thought it was a good fit," Marcotte said. "We went in the direction of figuring out, researching, learning how to do it, the whole basics of it, and met with some companies down south in Tennessee and Kentucky and got to know how they do it."
Marcotte hopes the product can be just as popular on this side of the country.
"There are a lot of companies down south doing it but there's not anybody doing it out here," he said. "So we thought it might be a good fit, a nice niche, to jump into the alcohol market and do something a little different."
Marcotte Distilling, located in the Main Street Plaza at 100 S. Eighth St., uses an outside distiller to help with production.
"Obviously, in our space right now, we can only make so much of it," he said. "So we went out and we found a third-party distiller to help us do it hands-on and to make what we want to make on a bigger scale."
The Tennessee and Kentucky experience left Marcotte wanting to go big from the start.
"The truth is, when we went back there and saw how excited people were, we kinda wanted to open our doors on the level that could handle a lot of production," he said. "When we do have more room and we're able to grow our business, we would like to bring it all back in house and make it all out of our place. But for right now, we were lucky enough to find a third party that is helping us make it on the scale we want to make it."
Marcotte originally had four flavors in mind for the product launch — marionberry, strawberry lemonade, apple pie and coffee.
"But in the production line on where we're making our flavoring, it got kinda backed up and so we had to go in a different direction," he said. "That's why we'll have marionberry, coffee and strawberry lemonade soon to come because they're still coming down the process line."
The process to create flavors is more high tech than folks may realize.
"Ideally, what we've done here is we create flavors, then we send them back to a company in New York who can re-create the flavor through natural flavors," Marcotte said. "We can take that flavoring and reproduce it as the same taste every time we produce it."
Four flavors currently offered are Silver Moon, Apple Pie, Cherry Picker and Saturn Peach.
Early on, there was some trial and error when working with flavors. Marcotte used Apple Pie as an example.
"We started off just making it with apples and trying to figure out how to do it that way and every time we did it, it tasted different," he said. "So we figured this isn't going to work very long if every time we make it, it's going to taste different."
The business will introduce new flavors in the future with an overall goal of 20 to 25.
"We've done our best to make it taste good," Marcotte said. "We welcome people to try it because it's pretty good stuff.
A Philomath Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting March 16 helped Marcotte Distilling celebrate its grand opening.
To begin, Marcotte Distilling will be open to the public from noon-6 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.
"We'll spend the rest of the week either making it or getting out there to beat the streets to get people to know about it," Marcotte said.