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Stone Ledge Distillery

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Drink The Ozark Highlands Trail

Advice Editorial: Ozark Highlands Offers Unique, Historic And Quality Experience For American Whiskey Lovers That Could Rival Kentucky

Article by Mark Sutherland, Missouri’s Stowloch Whiskey

Photography by Mark Sutherland

Originally published in Chesterfield City Lifestyle

Whiskey and good spirits are all about community. The perfect place for a good whiskey is in the company of friends, and many groups head to Kentucky to embrace the distillery experience.

However, one doesn't need to travel that far to connect with fantastic spirits. Missouri’s Ozark Highlands encompass the Southern half of the state, and the region has been distilling since 1819. Locally, just travel along the Missouri River in the northeastern section of the Ozark Highlands for a fantastic distillery experience.


Launch a distillery journey in the company of one of the most famous St. Louis families: the Busch Family. The new Busch Family Brewing and Distilling located off Benne Road in Defiance offers whiskey finished in Missouri White Oak barrels, other locally produced spirits, and their own fantastic beer, such as Kraftig, the Gussie, the Adolphus or Her Majesty’s Golden. Built on the family farm, the scenic location with its resident alpacas and Clydesdales is the perfect place to spend a few hours over a good drink and some fine German-style food.

In downtown Defiance, Stone Ledge Distillery’s tasting room is currently under construction in what used to be Don’s Place, and will be open in the fall, but one can visit Chandler Hill or Defiance Ridge Vineyards to talk whiskey and enjoy Stone Ledge’s Stowloch Whiskey. Stowloch and InverXion Vodka are available at stores across Missouri.

Further down 94 is the hilltop location of Sugar Creek Winery. Founded in 1994, it is also the home of the Distillery of Defiance where they create brandy and vodka under the name of a local historic location: Judgment Tree. The location offers great views, music and a relaxed atmosphere.


Situated between Union and Washington is Nobletons Distilling House on Highway 47. Led by ninth-generation distiller Demetrius Cain, their tasting room offers not only great drinks, but also tours of their facility where guests can see the magic happen and sometimes even taste right out of the barrel.

Head to Hermann to take in a private tour at Black Shire Distillery. The distillery actually has two tasting rooms. The easy to find one is located on Gutenberg Street, but my favorite is at the end of the Hermann Farm Distillery Tour. And for dinner, stop by Fernweh Distilling Company for dinner and drinks in their 1867 historic building.


These great locations barely scratch the surface, as the Ozark Highlands offers many more distilleries and experiences all across the bottom half of Missouri, including the End of the Road Bar at Top of the Rock in Big Cedar near Branson, the Cave Distillery in New Offenburg, Blacksmith Distillery in Lohman in or the Ty Lechyd Da Distillery in Springfield. For a list of distilleries across the Ozark Highlands, visit

Editor's Note: Mark Sutherland is founder of Missouri’s Stowloch Whiskey and InverXion Vodka.

  • The Ozark Highlands Spirits Region
  • Stone Ledge Distillery
  • Stowloch "Ozark Highlands" Whiskey
  • Judgment Tree
  • Distillery of Defiance at Sugar Creek Winery
  • Black Shire Distillery
  • Hermann Farm Distillery
  • Busch Family Brewing & Distilling
  • Stone Ledge's Mark & Amy Sutherland at Chandler Hill Vineyards
  • Hermann Farm Distillery Tasting Room
  • Busch Family Brewing & Distilling