ICYMI: Florida distillery with a Tampa Bay connection turns 1

Nearly 100 restaurants and liquor stores now carry Copper Bottom's small-batch spirits.

click to enlarge Typically, Copper Bottom visitors can sample a cocktail during their tour and tasting. - Courtesy of Copper Bottom Craft Distillery
Courtesy of Copper Bottom Craft Distillery
Typically, Copper Bottom visitors can sample a cocktail during their tour and tasting.

In October 2016, Copper Bottom Craft Distillery opened as Volusia County’s first distillery. But the small-batch spirits of this family-owned operation have reached nearly 100 restaurants and liquor stores throughout Florida since then — with an emphasis on the Tampa market, despite their out-of-town home base.

Even better? CL recently learned that Copper Bottom has a Tampa Bay connection.

Apollo Beach residents Mark and Joanne Craig, both Tampa natives, are behind the Holly Hill-based distillery, alongside their sons and daughters-in-law. Originally, the couple threw around the idea of launching a brewery (Mark’s brewing industry career started at Stroh’s, now the Yuengling plant, in Tampa close to 40 years ago, after all). Their light-bulb moment arrived during a family vacation to Vermont in 2012, however, when the Craigs came across a craft distillery.

“It was slow moving at first to get the federal and state licenses in place, not to mention having our 300-gallon stainless-steel and copper still built, delivered and installed,” said Joanne in a statement. “But we had to keep the end goal in mind, and this is our family’s business. It’s our legacy.”

Recognition from the American Distilling Institute (a silver medal for Best Craft Spirit) and Fifty Best (gold for Best Domestic Vodka) have also made their first year in the liquor business anything but shabby. Copper Bottom’s award-winning product line is made up of vodka, silver rum and a limited-edition gold rum.

According to CEO Mark, what sets them apart from other spirits is how they’re made.

“We make everything in-house, from start to finish. It’s genuine craft distilling from unrefined sugar cane. We’re proud of the products we produce, and it’s easy to taste the difference,” he said.

The Craigs offer free tastings and tours to the public at their Volusia facility, though regionites who aren’t up for a road trip can score Copper Bottom at Apollo’s Bistro, Tampa Joe’s, Apollo Beach Liquors, Circles and a number of ABC Fine Wine & Spirits stores locally.

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