In the News – Progressive Index Article – Jan 23rd 2019


Check out the article from the Petersburg VA Progressive Index from Aug 13, 2017 By Kristi Higgins

https://www.progress-index.com/opinion/20190123/moonshiners-whiskey-business-filmed-in-backwoods-of-disputanta

My editor, Pat Sharpf, checked with me to see if I was available to cover an event. I, originally, had set that day aside for “me” time, however, being the team player that I am … responded, yes. After Pat shared the details with me, I was glad I didn’t choose cocoon-mode, instead!

Dino Lunsford informed us that the Three Brothers’ Distillery located in Disputanta was going to be on a “reality” hit on the Discovery Channel. Lunsford, owner of DF Lunsford Construction and Old Towne’s Alibi in Petersburg, received a call from a TV producer, last November. Lunsford thought it was bogus and hung up. The producer, Gary Folsom, finally convinced Lunsford to meet with him at Three Bros. to discuss hiring him for a renovation project. Lunsford while laughing, shared, “I still didn’t believe it until I actually walked into Three Bros. and saw, Tim Smith, the star of ‘Moonshiners’.”

According to Tim Smith, ‘Moonshiners: Whiskey Business’ is a spin-off of ‘Moonshiners’ which is in its eighth season and has over two million viewers. Three Bros. is owned by three Reavis brothers, David, Mike and William. David shared, “I called Tim Smith and asked him if he could give us a hand, and he said, yes.”

Co-Executive Producer and Director, Ron Cornwall, explained, ‘Moonshiners: Whiskey Business’ on Discovery is expected to air in April … maybe a little later … but, in the spring. It’s a show starring Tim Smith where he goes to ‘troubling and just up and coming’ distilleries and helps them get on their way … find their path back to the woods and the roots to distilling.”

Lunsford said, “Their designer provided me with a vague rendering for a “speakeasy-themed” tasting room. We kind of just figured it out and ran with it creatively and completed the renovation in the required seven days.”

When I reached out to Lunsford for the deets, I commented to him, “I should dress in Roaring ’20s attire.” Lunsford thought it was a Great Gatsby idea. So, with my morals in check, I arrived wearing a vintage, beaded flapper dress, hat adorned with feathers, long pearl necklaces and a mink coat.

A crowd of sixty friends and family members were invited to attend the Tasting Room Reveal. Guests were required to sign waivers granting authorization for them to appear in the show. Each guest received a wristband along with a certificate for a signature drink, The Aft Kicker: Three Brothers’ Gin, honey syrup and apple juice with a powdered honey-rimmed glass. Navy veteran since 1990, David Reavis, informed me, “Aft is the rear of the boat and a nod to the ship.”

While camera crews and guests were anxiously waiting for the big event, I flapped my way into the tasting room. I’m not at liberty to speak about the speakeasy interior design, so I will get right to my bold moment of introducing myself to the fourth-generation bootlegger donned in denim overalls, Tim Smith. I, almost, didn’t recognize him, since he was wearing a shirt. The, now, “legal” moonshiner is a down-to-earth, nice guy.

The first thing Smith shared with me was an image saved on his phone: “Inventing is a combination of brains and materials. The more brains you use, the less materials you need.” – said by Charles Keating … practiced by Tim Smith.

Smith explained the concept of ‘Whiskey Business’, “It’s kind of like a rehab. We came in and rebuilt it … restoration. It’s like a bar rescue … distillery rescue, because he was like on his last leg. He was losing business. Doesn’t know where he’s at. He’s upside down. Marketing is a problem. We come in and amp things up a bit. We put a fresh face on everything.”

Smith introduced me to his team members: Tim Jones from Lexington, Kentucky and Devin Mills from Denver, Colorado. I asked Mills what he thought of Three Bros.′ craft. He responded, “I really like it. Compound gins are not that common. So, it’s always nice to see craft distilleries that are trying to do something outside of the norm. Not doing the same thing that the big boys are doing. They do a good job so why try to duplicate it or beat it. Doing something that’s a little bit different is a great way to stand out. And, Three Bros. has done a great job of doing that.”

According to Smith, there will be four episodes this season; two in Virginia and two in North Carolina. Smith suggested to me, “You ought to get yourself a wrist band so you can be in it. You’re all dressed up.” At that moment, I heard some commotion outside, so I high-heeled it across the floor and opened the front door. I almost knocked David over. With cameras and guests in place, they were seconds away from filming the reveal!

David Reavis proudly opened the door and said: “Hey everybody! Welcome to the new Three Brothers’ Distillery Tasting Room and Speakeasy. You need a password. The password is Shellback. Come on in and let’s have a drink!” After the crowd roared with cheers and applause, they piled inside. According to David, shellback is a term for sailors who have crossed the equator at sea.

The room buzzed with excitement while David along with distillers, Chip Buzard and Chris Hewitt, served Aft Kickers. Smith, Mills and Jones chatted with the guests and happily answered questions about the renovations and ‘Moonshiners: Whiskey Business’.

Owner, Mike Reavis shared, “This is the kind of bar you just want to hang out at. It’s very exciting! It’s been a bootstrap since the very beginning. This is going to propel us so far, and we need it so bad. It’s a tough business. This is phenomenal! Like the Discovery Channel says; this thing is way down a dirt road. You come down here and it’s a little hidden bar down in the woods. That’s what it feels like. It’s fun.”

David takes a break from sharing his craft to express his gratitude, “I will say we’re blessed to be here, today.” Many guests said, “Amen and Hallelujah!” Another, teasingly said, “There’s no crying in gin-making.”

With raw emotion in his eyes David continued, “Seriously, I want to thank everyone for being here. And, my brothers William and Mike. Today, we’re here to really celebrate … I think the distillery.”

After an emotional pause, David thanked everyone who donated their time, talents and/or money. Wearing his heart on his sleeve he added, “It means the world to me and thank you all for being here. And, thank you for helping me realize this dream.” The crowd erupted into more amens!

David asked the crowd to give Tim Smith a round of applause and invited him to say a few words. Tim stepped behind the bar and quipped, “Do I get like an award or something?” Guests burst into laughter and one rambunctious guest yelled, “You’re drinking it!”

Smith shared, “A small chat out back. That’s how it all got started. David told me it was his dream. Like I did. I had a vision … a dream … one time. And, I shed some tears, too. I know how it is. And, I could see in his heart where he wanted to go. He told me stories about his mom, about being in the Navy and about starting the distillery.

“And, David told me about the other two guys: Chip and Chris. These two guys volunteered to help him with his vision and dream. And, you know … that’s a lot. And, that’s what happens, though. When you have good friends like your military buddies, they stick with you for life and they wish you well. And, I think these two guys here (referring to Chip and Chris), well, I hate to tell you … but, I think they’re going to stick with you for life.”

Smith expressed, “I can’t do it without these guys right here: Tim Jones and Devin Mills. They have a vision. They’re out there. And, that’s what it takes, sometimes. You know, I have a little vision myself, and I pull on Tim over here and Devin. They are outside of the box and experts in their area, which you can see (motions around the room). The engineering, the labeling, the advertising, the marketing; my whole crew put this all together.

“Now, you have a place you can come. You can tell other people about it and how much they need to see it.

“And, I think this is just the beginning. David’s got a little taste of it. He’s got a taste of what he can do. He’s got confidence in what he can do. When I first met this guy, not too long ago, he didn’t have the confidence he has right now. But, right now he has great confidence, and he’s taking off. He knows he can go. It’s kind of like kicking the bird out of the nest. I think he can fly. But, it’s been great working with these guys. And, I wish them the best.”

After the applause wound down, David directed guests to the old tasting room to enjoy barbecue prepared by fellow neighbor Byron Bauer and his son, and sides prepared by Donna Degroat, the owner of The 460 Café & Farmers Market which is located in Ivor.

Out of the wild, blue sea, David’s Navy buddies belted out singing the sacred “Submariner’s Song”!

Tim Smith, being the gentleman that he is, insisted on me budging in line ahead of him. The least the butterfly could do was scoop baked beans, coleslaw and greens on his tray. But, when it came to the pork, he served himself. You just don’t come between a man and his meat!

After dinner, I thanked David for sharing the experience with The Progress-Index. He commented, “This has been fantabulous! I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to have been on this television show. The biggest struggle with this craft distillery, especially being here in Sussex County, is just getting the word out that we’re back here. And, getting people to know about us, getting local restaurants to support us and just getting the community behind us. This show I think has been really positive in getting some really good positive community involvement. The people that are here are vested. And, we’re definitely getting a much better reception to the bottles and the product. It’s been awesome. I’m so blessed to have had this opportunity. I can’t say enough.

“The next piece is building a deck off of the back. The sunsets, here, are fabulous! I would love to have reoccurring music jams. We’re always looking for people that are looking for a place to meet. Another idea I have is “Cocktails and Crafts”. Sharing with other people what we love, and, they share what they love with us; that’s what this place is all about.”

I asked Cornwall how he felt the Reveal played out. Cornwall provided, “Awesome! I think we go into all these projects hoping we’ve helped. We came here and gave a little boost. I think, if you look around and see what everyone has done, our team: Star, Tim Smith, Distillery Engineer, Devin Mills and Marketing and Branding expert, Tim Jones; they’ve really picked up where Dave started and they moved it in a world-class direction.”

Cornwall added, “We’re happy to be here in Virginia. Home of moonshiners and whiskey. The thing that’s so important to America is … Virginia is where it comes from … it’s important that we’re here.”

The distillery and the new tasting room are open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To schedule a Sunday-Friday visit, call (757) 204-1357. Visit www.threebrotherswhiskey.com for more information.

Kristi K. Higgins, also known as “The Social Butterfly”, recently joined the Progress-Index newsroom staff. Kristi, who writes about her experiences at various community events, will be contributing her insights and perspective, as well as sharing stories of human interest, for Progress-Index customers. She can be reached at khiggins@progress-index.com or 804-722-5162.

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