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Utica Distillery Gives Moonshine a Makeover

UTICA (Ashley Yore/Kate Liebers) -- In Utica, moonshine is taking on a new meaning. Not considered the illicit whiskey smuggled through Appalachia in the moonlight, it is a spirit expected to breathe new life into the area.

"We think this is an industry that has a future in Ohio," said Paul Taiganides, CEO of Mill Street Distillery. "But as it comes to moonshine, really, we're the first to market it as a moonshine product. We're very proud of that."

The Utica distillery, about an hour's drive from downtown Columbus, has been legally bottling and selling this beverage since the week before Christmas.

Within a month, the company sold about 400 bottles.

"It gives a sense of hope to a small community, which was slowly dying," Taiganides said.

Unlike the moonshine of days past, this version is perfectly legal -- as long as the producers have a permit, Taiganides said.

"You say the word 'moonshine' and people say, 'Well that's illegal. You can't do that,'" he said. "That's why one of our mottos is 'Moonshine isn't a crime.'"

While Mill Street's moonshine is not the clandestine drink poured into mason jars, the recipe is similar. 

"It is the authentic moonshine experience," Carlos Ogden, Chief Operating Officer Carlos Ogden said. "We do straight corn whiskey, no sugar added -- we don't cheat."

"This is very much what you would see in the back woods but also it's a little refined," Ogden said.

The distillery offers visitors a chance to see how this special drink is produced. They hope this attraction will turn Utica into a destination for central Ohioans.

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