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MuckleyEye Whiskey Colts Neck
Jun 05, 2018

Monmouth County Man makes whiskey with local ingredients

By Nicholas Deckmejian

MuckleyEye Whiskey Colts Neck

In 1780, a small town named Scobeyville became home to America’s first commercial licensed distillery, best known for its apple brandy – even George Washington’s diaries mentioned it. Commonly known as Applejack, these cider spirits were created by William Laird, and his family continued his legacy for centuries.

Eventually, Scobeyville became Colts Neck Township, and while Laird & Company continues its operations in town, a new chapter of novel distilling is just beginning.

A few years ago, Geoffrey Karch of Colts Neck was a television executive for National Geographic, promoting other people’s brands – until one day he decided to make something of his own. Today, Karch is founder of Colts Neck StillHouse, New Jersey’s first full-service farm distillery.

MuckleyEye Whiskey Colts Neck

Karch always had a passion for home brewing and admired Americana pride associated with whiskey and bourbon. After laws on distilleries changed, he decided to turn a dream into reality.

Karch attended Moonshine University, a distilling epicenter in Louisville, Kentucky, where a rigorous training course taught him about equipment, chemistry, and recipes. After that, Karch was determined to build his own distillery.

He sought approval from his family – which he said was the only hurdle – and started developing his brand. He reached into his family history and picked the term “MuckleyEye” – a word his grandfather used for eureka moments. “I didn’t realize it wasn’t a real term until later in life,” Karch admitted, adding that it describes his mantra of distilling with “white-knuckle enthusiasm and exuberant pride.”

In searching for potential distillery locations, nothing other than Colts Neck worked out for him. “Thank God,” he exclaimed, “because this is the perfect location.”

As a 20-year resident, Karch understands the town’s character: an old, horse-country town with history rooted in farmland. He embraced that history when designing the distillery: “I could have done something industrial and have been open a year ago, but that was not the vision,” he said.

Colts Neck StillHouse will make bourbons, rye whiskeys, and other spirits like gin and vodka. Karch has been “tapping into local farms” for ingredients like heirloom corn, rye, even rosemary and cranberries for botanical spirits.

The venue will offer tours, tastings, cocktails, and private events. Visitors “are going to learn how it’s made, they’re going to experience the history of it, the enjoyment of it, and they’re going to be able to hang out and have a good time,” Karch said.