“It took about five years to create this,” owner Oliver “Ollie” Mulligan told me while walking through The Great Wagon Road Distilling Company yesterday evening. “I think it’s in every Irish person’s blood really… Whiskey is something that is very close to my heart, so it was sort of a no-brainer.”
Sandwiched between two breweries, Sugar Creek on the left and OMB to its right, The Great Wagon Road Distilling Co. (open now) and upscale sister bar The Broken Spoke (target opening night is Saturday) are offering something in stark contrast. Charlotte’s going to love this place. It feels like the love child of the Punch Room and Workman’s Friend.
Address: 227 Southside Dr.
Let’s take a look around.
On the right is The Great Wagon Road Distilling Co. On the left is a jaw-dropping sister bar named The Broken Spoke.
Great Wagon Road founder is Ollie Mulligan, a native of Kildare, Ireland. His Irish accent is incredible and will make you thirsty for whiskey.
The distillery is 8,800 square feet.
The distillery opened yesterday for tours/tastings. Tours cost $15 and take about 35 minutes.
Distillery is currently open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and tours are provided at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
All tours include samples of Great Wagon Road’s three spirits. Limit one per customer. Must have a valid driver’s license.
Rúa (unfiltered single malt) – ABC still needs to approve, and Ollie told me that approval will happen within two weeks. I tried some, delicious.
Bán (vodka) – $28.40. Limit one per customer. Must have a valid driver’s license.
If Ollie’s in a good mood, he may also bring out their “distiller’s creation, ‘Mucky Pup’ … Poitín aged in one of the used whiskey barrels.”
Ollie’s grandfather was once arrested for making whiskey illegally in Ireland. The actual Great Wagon Road carried immigrants — mostly German and Scots-Irish — from Pennsylvania to the Carolinas.
Ollie: “We look for and use only the best ingredients, whether it’s the finest grains from Europe or aging barrels made with oak from the States. Our whiskey and vodka are consistently smooth, and their flavors warm both the senses and the soul.”
Next door to the distillery is Great Wagon Road’s sister bar – The Broken Spoke. Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
It’s beautiful. Two floors.
12 beers on tap (24 lines). 180 seats.
Lower bar area.
Upper bar area.
The wood on the bar comes from a white oak that was taken down at 2115 Selwyn Avenue due to root decay.
How do I know my wood? It’s the serial number.
Who added the serial number? This guy. Damon Barron. He’s the creator of Carolina Urban Lumber and spoke at TEDxCharlotte this year. Great dude.
Damon also made these killer charcuterie boards.
Yes, The Broken Spoke will have food. It’ll start off simple, but Ollie will soon introduce “European food.” Sounds kind of fancy, but I’ll eat it and I love the authenticity.
A whiskey will cost $7.50.
Yes, they’ll have cocktails. Specialty cocktails will include Hot Poitin (drumlish, warm water, sugar cube, lemon slice) for $10 and Rua & Branch (whiskey with branch water). I learned that branch water is water than they use in the distilling process. Drumlish is Irish moonshine.