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Monday, May 20, 2024

‘Contemporary brandy’ from Wilmington’s Mason Inlet Distillery hits local ABC shelves

Mason Inlet Distillery uses the same method of traditional brandy, but instead of using grapes it infuses the liquor with lemons, bananas, cucumbers, or pineapples. Pictured are two of the four products now in ABC stores: Pineapple Express and Lemon Waves. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

WILMINGTON — Mason Inlet Distillery released its first lineup of ‘contemporary brandy’ in ABC stores across North Carolina, including three stores in Wilmington — two on Market Street and another on Wrightsville Avenue approaching Wrightsville Beach.

It joins Blue Shark Vodka and End of Days Distillery in Wilmington’s emerging craft liquor market.

The brandy is made using the same method of traditional brandy, but instead of using grapes it is infused with various fresh fruits and juices and undergoes “proprietary distilling techniques for a unique flavor and aroma,” according to a release late Thursday morning.

RELATED: Mason Inlet Distillery the latest Wilmington-area liquor maker to hit ABC shelves

The initial lineup includes the Coolcumber (cucumber brandy), Pineapple Express, Go Bananas, and Lemon Waves.

“[Mason Inlet brandy] is actually made with real fresh fruit, made into a juice or a smoothie-type texture, and that flavor and aroma is infused into the liquor, and you don’t lose it,” owner and head distiller Tom Curran said.

Tom Curran dips a bottle of his Go Bananas brandy into hot wax for a sealed top. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Tom Curran dips a bottle of his Go Bananas brandy into hot wax for a sealed top last February. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

The product is referred to as ‘contemporary brandy’ to differentiate itself from other brandies found on ABC shelves, according to marketing manager Kevin Stauss.

“We have to call it a brandy, just the way it’s made,” Stauss said last February, as he, Curran, and Curran’s brother-in-law Jonathan Volkman were bottling a batch of Go Bananas. “But everything from our labels to the way the liquor looks — they stand out from everything else on a brandy shelf for sure. The biggest thing was calling it ‘contemporary brandy,’ separating ourselves from everyone else, because we’re not the same as everyone else. It’s not going to taste like you’d expect a brandy to taste, it’s just a brandy by formula.”

Unlike traditional brandy, a brown liquor typically served neat, the distillery’s clear brandy is “best enjoyed on the rocks with a splash of fruit juice,” according to the release.

“I was never a fan of liquor,” Curran said back in February. “I just wanted to prove to my father-in-law that I could make better liquor than what was on the shelves. It was just a test, a bucket list deal.”

While other flavored and fruit liquors are filled with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and other artificial ingredients, according to the release, Mason Inlet Distillery uses fresh and natural ingredients, “born out of a desire to create a new spirit with less burn and more flavor.”

“That was my intention — clean liquor, no burn, no aftereffects the next day, with a full flavor and aroma,” Curran said.

Mason Inlet Distillery is located in Kings Grant at 6420 Amsterdam Way, near Broomtail Craft Brewery.


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