Written by Jay Sanders | Photos by Anthony Harden
With H&H Distillery, Wendell and Taylor Howard set out to create a craft liquor uniquely theirs, while still paying tribute to their deep regional roots.
A young Wendell Howard was peering out the window of his grandfather’s 1963 Cadillac as a massive hurricane was bearing down on New Orleans. Seeking relief from his implacable asthma, Hazel Howard had escaped the wetter deciduous weather of Western North Carolina for the drier climate of Arizona, but now his intrepid grandson had come for a visit. “We met him in New Orleans and we rode in his Cadillac,” Wendell fondly recalls now. “I remember that I couldn’t see—we were trying to beat the storm coming in. It was raining.”
Years later, after Hazel had bought a new Cadillac, Wendell hinted that he might want the ‘63. “He left it sitting under a big oak tree,” Wendell says. “‘Let me buy that Cadillac from you, let me buy that Cadillac.’ Finally, one day Hazel said, ‘Just come and get it.’ I brought it home and let it sit on the ground—not under a roof—for a long time. When I had a little money, I’d fix a little bit, and fix a little bit—I’d pay somebody. I didn’t do it; I had somebody do it. It’s still got the original pocket cards—the registration cards with (Hazel’s) signature on ‘em.”
Which brings us to Hazel 63.
Here in 2017, Wendell, along with his son, Taylor, make up the father and son team behind Western North Carolina’s newest microdistillery, H&H Distillery. Located at 204 Charlotte Highway in Fairview (just outside Asheville), their production facility is open for free tours and tastings on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, or by appointment.
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