Florida whiskey makers distill liquid gold using old family recipe

Image 1 of 6

In the backwoods of Pasco County, there's a whiskey revolution rising.

Natalie and Kevin Goff are the owners of NJoy Spirits. They're unlikely looking rebels, but what they're cooking up has turned the world of craft whiskey upside-down.

"As you can tell we have no neighbors. It's peace and quiet and we're out in the middle of the woods making whiskey. How much better can that be?" master distiller Kevin Goff said.

It all started with an old family recipe. In 2007, Natalie's father passed away. They were cleaning out his attic and found books about her great-great-grandfather's whiskey-making days during World War I. 

"I showed it to Kevin and said, 'This is a sign. We need to try and make whiskey,'" Natalie remembered.

After some trial and error, NJoy Spirits was born.

"The first batch, actually I thought it was getting away from me. I was sweating bullets. It was spiking high in temperature, and it was turning almost like a cement. You could hardly stir it. But it came out good. We were actually surprised. I think we got lucky more than anything," Kevin recalled.

Artisanal alcohol is a billion-dollar industry with dozens of distilleries popping up across the country. For the Goffs to break in, they had to break the rules.

"We purposely have not visited distilleries because Kevin didn't want to be tainted by what others are doing," Natalie said.

"I figured you've got to learn the hard way, make my own mistakes," Kevin added.

They grow and chop their own sugarcane, grow their own rye, and capture rainwater which is filtered twice; things almost unheard of in today's world of distilling.

"We use a brand new barrel every time and can only use it one time for our whiskey," Natalie said.

The results are liquid gold, which has won them plenty of awards.

"We've been winning awards since we put this in a bottle, which was April 2015. We took San Francisco Gold then. We've since then won two international gold medals for the Wild Buck Whiskey and nine international gold medals for the rum," Natalie said.

Their signature Wild Buck Whiskey and Mermaid rum can sell for $60 a bottle, but the Goffs say money is not the ultimate goal.

"People think there's so much profit in it but really it's volume. And if you're in this business to make money, you'd be sorely mistaken. You'd better do it because you love it," Natalie said.

The Goffs have taken an old family recipe and created a masterpiece. To find out more about NJoy Spirits Distillery, including tasting times and tours, visit https://www.wildbuckwhiskey.com/home.