Hidden Gems of CLT: Muddy River Distillery

CHARLOTTE, NC — What are you missing in your favorite neighborhood? WCCB Charlotte’s Alexandra Elich explores tucked away spots, historic businesses, and secret gardens in the middle of our bustling city.

On this week’s Hidden Gems of Charlotte, Alex visits Muddy River Distillery.

When you meet Robbie Delaney it’s pretty obvious he likes to take chances.  For example, he has no clue how the aged rum in 160 barrels will taste. His biggest leap of faith, starting Muddy River Distillery.

“Muddy River Distillery is the oldest, legal rum distillery in the Carolinas and we’ve been here since 2011. We’re unique because as a craft distillery or single owner, zero investor, zero debt facility. Our business is built on the sale of our room, not from a previous job, nest egg or investors,” says Delaney.

Before opening the distillery Delaney worked in construction. He was working in Texas, living in Charlotte and flying home every other weekend.

“I just read an article in an in-flight magazine about how the craft beer scene had become such a big deal and what’s going to follow that, the liquor,” says Delaney.

They found the space on Craigslist naming it Muddy River because it’s on the banks of the Catawba River which floods and gets muddy.

“Like any small business, it’s scary. I can tell you stories about sleeping here. My wife owned her first forklift before she owned her first car. It’s the American dream, you know. I stopped working for the man and we started small and we made about 30 bottles a day in our distill freedom over here. Now we do 1200 bottles a day, ”say Delaney.

Muddy River sells rums in 300 ABC stores across the Carolinas as well as 300 bars and restaurants. They export to Canada and sell in Chicago.
Delaney says you can dedicate barrels at no cost so Muddy River Distillery can be part of your story.

“If so you get married or have a kid or something you can sign up for a barrel. No obligation. And eight, 12 or 16 years on down the road I’ll email you and say hey we dump that barrel it’s batch whatever of our 16 year. If you choose to, you can come out and buy the product at that time,” says Delaney.

The distillery offers tours and makes their own hand sanitizer. Muddy River was also named top 10 craft room distilleries in the country by USA Today.