Distilling 101 (In 1999)

More than two decades ago, Erik started tinkering with some old distilling equipment on our farm at Richland Estate trying to make rum in the same way that his grandfather had taught him while growing up in Holland. Erik’s grandfather encompassed a vast knowledge of rums that he was always willing to share, and that knowledge was the foundation for what would eventually become Richland Rum. However, learning how to distill is one thing, actually building a productive home distillery is another. It took a lot of will power and intensive labor along with the acquired knowledge to actually get rum to trickle from Erik’s homemade still…but once we had rum, a magnificent journey was thus embarked upon.

What began as a small farm distillery in 1999 has now grown into one of the best craft distilleries in the US and the world. Unknown to us back then, but our private distillery operation would eventually also be known as the “oldest active distillery in Georgia”. Being Georgia’s oldest distillery is quite the honor, and we are among great company with the other oldest distilleries in the United States (for a list of oldest Distilleries in the USA, click HERE). Distilling is an art form in and of itself, and one that has been practiced for centuries across the USA and the World. Indeed, here in the Southern United States, moonshine and bourbon distilling is common practice and has a well-known history. Prohibition, changing alcohol laws, and other economic challenges were the demise of so many home distilleries, craft distilleries, and other small production distilleries during the 20th century, but eventually the road was re-paved for distilling in modern times.

Today, we are happy to exist alongside so many other other distilleries both large and small who are making some of the best rum, whiskey, gin, vodka, bourbon, tequila and any other delicious elixirs! Here in Georgia, there are now dozens of distilleries all with their own unique methods for distilling quality, unique, tasteful products that enhance the liquor market as a whole. We are honored to be the oldest distillery, but we are certainly glad to not be the last. The growth of the distillery industry gives us ever more reason to raise a glass in appreciation, and hopefully this growth continues…who knows, the next person to search how to distill rum, or how to distill gin, whisky, or vodka might be the next great craft distillery being born.


Karin Vonk,


Oldest Rum Distilleries In America, via Thrillist®:


Richland Rum Named “America’s Best Rum” by Forbes® Magazine:


Richland Rum, Top 10 Craft Rum Distilleries voted by USA Today®: