The distillery is owned and operated by the Kaufman brothers. In 1910 their great grandfather, Jesse Shwayder, founded the iconic American brand Samsonite. Shwayder never missed an opportunity to attribute his company’s success to the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” He believed in this deep value so much that he started a tradition of handing out marbles engraved with the Golden Rule. The Kaufman brothers carry on this tradition to honor their great grandfather with a collectable coin inscribed with this philosophy on every bottle.
Short Mountain has a long history in the production of some of the finest moonshine in the country. After the Civil War there were 18 legal distilleries in Cannon County. Distilleries were the pinnacle of the local agricultural framework, providing added value to surplus crops.
In 1920 prohibition shut down the relationship between farming and distilleries, but the heritage of whiskey making lived on. During this time famous Moonshiners like Cooper Melton used our farm’s cave spring to make moonshine that is said to have supplied Al Capone’s speakeasies throughout the North East.
Short Mountain Distillery is partnered with local legends of moonshine, Ricky Estes & Ronald Lawson. These men have retired from their days of illegal wildcatting, but their craft is undisputed.
Our moonshiners bring to the table over 100 combined years of distilling experience. Short Mountain Shine is made with the time-honored skills of Cannon County moonshiners and is refined by the modern distilling practices of our Master Distiller Josh Smotherman. Short Mountain Shine is the best-tasting shine ever made, made even better.
Billy Kaufman is a rural Cannon County farmer who lives and works in Short Mountain, TN. Kaufman came to Cannon County in 2001 and runs the first farm in Cannon County to attempt organic certification. Working with the USDA, Kaufman installed erosion protections, water conservation systems and fencing. The stringent requirements protect streams, wildlife and drinking water for generations to come while providing healthier food for the community.
Little Short Mountain Farm is nestled in 300 acres of land that Kaufman wants to protect and make a viable part of our community. His work as a farmer providing food to locals and various markets got him thinking about ways that can better sustain local farmers.
Billy proposed an idea to his brothers (David, Ben, and Darian) to start a distillery called Short Mountain Distillery. It would create jobs, help keep local farmers in business and bring another unique Tennessee brand to America and the world. Most important to the Kaufman brothers, Short Mountain Distillery would be a locally owned and family funded business that’s a productive part of the community generating needed revenue that will stay in the county.
In the summer of 2010, Kaufman began seeking approval from his friends and neighbors by collecting signatures for a referendum. A law passed in 2009 by the state legislature cleared the way for distilleries to operate in Tennessee. On November 2, 2010 voters granted Kaufman permission to build a distillery in Cannon County through a general election referendum.
Since then, Short Mountain Distillery worked to receive both state and federal permits becoming Tennessee’s sixth distillery making a 105 proof authentic Tennessee Moonshine from corn grown and stone-milled on Kaufman’s 300 acre farm. Short Mountain Distillery has become an internationally recognized moonshine with thousands of loyal followers.