We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Curphy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Let me start out by saying that the good Lord guided me to start a legal distillery. I use to make liquor illegally for a number of years. I was making a delivery of liquor and was sitting at a stoplight and was rear ended by a San Diego police officer. He did not hit me hard but it was enough we stopped. No damage to either car, but because he hit me he had to have the shift sergeant come out to make the report. And as you can guess every officer not on a call came by to rib him for hitting me. The whole time I was praying they did not ask me to make sure my trunk opened and closed okay. I told God if they didn’t ask I would start a legal business making liquor. The next morning I started researching how to start a legal distillery. And in 2015 I filled the paperwork to go legal.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Making whiskey is a art in itself. To be able to make a smooth clean tasting whiskey it all begins with how you grind your grains and how the mash is made. Then it also has a lot to do with the yeast used I am using the same yeast strain given to me by my grandfather. And of course how the mash is distilled. When all the parts come together correctly you end up with a very smooth clean tasting whiskey. We are known for make exceptionally smooth liquor, which I am very proud of.
We are still growing and work diligently to keep our products of the highest quality and maintain the family recipes. It has not been easy to break into the market place with a small craft distillery, but with the help of other distillery’s around San Diego and some guidance they have helped me overcome and or avoid some of the pitfalls.
Lessons learned is maintain the faith in God and he will provide first and foremost. Trust in my own instincts as far as types of flavors we produce in moonshine. Trust that my ancestors recipe will be acceptable to the general public.
I have been working in the aerospace industry at night for the past 42 years and recently decided to retire and follow my passion full time. We have developed different streams of income outside of our tasting room. We do manufacture and bottle products for others. We approach any product the same way I produce my own thus giving my clients the best quality product they can have.
Our family recipe has been handed down for over 240 years as far as I can tell according to the stories my grandfather told me. My family came to the United States from Isle of Mann. And we still make Uisge Beatha the same way I was taught except it is in larger quantities. I have started making bourbon and spiced rum since going legal which has had a great reception by the public. We do have currently 19 flavors of moonshines some are seasonal while others we have year round.
I am looking forward to teaching my grandson how to make the family recipe when he is old enough to learn.
With the years of tradition and years of experience I believe that helps make us one step above the rest but this is only my opinion and bias. This is where the customer comes in to decide whether they love us or we are not to their taste. But we have been maintaining 5 star ratings on google, Yelp, and Groupon. We do love to have all comments and criticisms because they do help us grow as a business and as the art of distilling.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My favorite places to visit around San Diego include Old Town many great restaurants to enjoy food and drinks. Mount Solidad , Cabrillo Monument, and of course any of the fine beaches, plus Julian for some great apple pies.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would love to thank my Grandfather who taught me how to make our family recipe for our single malt whiskey we call Uisge Beatha. And our world renowned award winning moonshine PD-101. I was 15 years old when he taught me. I am forever grateful to him.
I also what to thank my wife Carmen, of 30 years for all her moral support and hard work in helping me start my dream and encouraging me when I was struggling to make it.
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