Adventure Spirits Distilling Plans Fall Opening In Whitehouse

Adventure Spirits Distilling chief operating officer Barry Beale and chief executive officer Joe Carter stand in front of the vault inside the old PNC bank at the corner of Providence and Waterville streets in downtown Whitehouse. Work to transform the 1910 bank into the distillery is set to begin this month. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — The 1910 bank building at the busy downtown Whitehouse corner has sat empty for three years – but not for much longer. 

Business partners and fellow Air Force veterans Barry Beale and Joe Carter have a plan to transform the old PNC Bank at the intersection of Providence and Waterville streets into Adventure Spirits Distilling – a small craft distillery where whiskey enthusiasts and newbies alike can experience tastings, learn about distilling and its history, and relax with friends.

“Our goal is to have a high-end cocktail experience – one that educates people about the history and art of American distilling,” said Carter, founder, co-owner and CEO of Adventure Spirits Distilling.

With family in Kentucky, Carter is no stranger to whiskey, as he receives bottles nearly every Christmas and birthday. During the pandemic, Carter began educating himself on the distilling process. 

“Everyone on the You-Tube channels suggested joining a whiskey society to get an education, but there wasn’t one in the area, so I said to my wife, ‘Let’s start one,’” Carter said. 

He and Jessica founded the Maumee Valley Whiskey Society in 2021, and the Maumee-based private, nonprofit club now has 1,000 Facebook members and 60 dues-paying members who socialize, experience tastings and learn about the history of whiskey while raising funds for area charitable organizations.

“I wanted to work for myself, and I love the whiskey industry, but the whiskey society isn’t going to support a salary for a full-time employee, so I thought, ‘Why not open a distillery?’”

Six months into his planning, including getting the license to open a distillery, Carter roped in Beale. Both retired from uniformed service in the Air Force and got to know each other through the 180th Fighter Wing, where both currently have civilian jobs.

“He knew exactly what would hook me: taking me to these amazing establishments in Kentucky and Moonshine University, where I learned to appreciate the fine details,” said Beale, founder, co-owner and chief operating officer.

Yes, that’s right. Moonshine University is a real educational institution that provides training for restauranteurs and distillers. Both earned certification in distilling American whiskey.

“A lot goes into making a great whiskey. It’s not only running the distillation process properly. It’s barrel-aging it and bottling,” Carter said. “There’s also blending. You can take a percentage from each barrel and blend it to make a new flavor profile. Then there are finishes you can do, like putting whiskey in a wine barrel or rum barrel.”

“Unlike the big guys, we can put a lot of love into it,” Beale added. “We can focus on the end product a little more. It’s kind of an artistic expression.”

Whiskey is a term that describes spirits distilled from grains including bourbon from corn or rye from rye grain. Adventure Spirits Distilling will source grains from local farmers for distilling inside the back of the old bank building. The cooker, stripping still, condenser and finishing still are stored and ready for installation.

Because it takes two to four years to barrel-age the product, Adventure Spirits will do what other distillery start-ups do to fill their shelves. 

“I’ll call another distillery or broker and say I need 20 barrels of 5-year-old bourbon or rye. I can bring it here. We can taste it, blend it, finish it with a different component and then bottle it to get a flavor profile that we think will represent our label. Then we’ll bottle it and sell it as our brand,” Carter said. “That’s pretty standard. You can’t open without a product.”

Adventure Spirits will have a full bar stocked with vodka, gin, whiskey and rum in order to provide a high-end cocktail experience, enjoyed while seated in a leather chair or sofa in the old bank lobby or in one of the glass-walled offices available for private parties. Another office will hold a tasting room and another, a gift shop.

While the vault is currently filled with safety deposit boxes, soon it will have barrels of aged whiskeys for a VIP tasting experience. Customers can choose a favorite to be bottled on-site. In addition to bottle and barrel picks, Adventure Spirits has other special events planned.

“We love the opportunity to do collaborative partnerships with other restaurants and businesses, and to participate in local festivals,” Carter said. “We will focus on Ohio-specific flavor profiles as well.”

When Beale and Carter made a presentation to Whitehouse leaders in November, they shared projections of potential customers. According to research, the greater Toledo area has an estimated 1.7 million prospects with $9.1 billion in sales potential. Nearly half of that business will come from spirits enthusiasts, but new whiskey drinkers, weekend locals and tourists are expected as well.

“Our customers will be able to come here and have a fun, comfortable, informative and relaxed experience and know that we’re a great partner with the community,” said Beale, adding that he’s thrilled to open a business in the town he’s called home for over 20 years.

While the many passersby peeking into the window might not see a lot of progress yet, that is soon to change. The architects’ plans are ready, and the two men have been repairing walls in preparation for contract work to begin. Once the inside is complete, an outdoor entertainment area under the drive-thru canopy is planned.

A fall 2024 opening date is slated. To keep up with the progress, visit www.adventurespiritsdistilling.com.

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