Head Distiller Keener Shanton

Meet Keener Shanton

Always having the best day of his life, Head Distiller Keener Shanton first became interested in distilling when he was in his early 20s in a college chemistry lab. Formerly a firefighter who worked 24 hours then had the next 48 hours off, he started hobby distilling to fill in the off time. Joining the Old Forge team as Head Distiller shortly after our doors opened in 2014, he has created unique spirits for all to enjoy.

Described by some as a mad scientist, he constantly strives to be innovative and push boundaries. 

Energetic with impeccable attention to detail, he is a natural fit to the challenging world of distillation. As head distiller, he oversees all components of the distillation & production process. From grain to the glass, Keener is involved in every step. 

Our craft distillery production challenges, including limited production space and minimal automation, drives Keener’s innovation and sets our distillery apart from the rest. He delights in being creative with reconfiguring equipment to fit the spirit types he wants to make and maximizes all opportunities to create new spirits. To Keener, there is nothing unattainable in the spirit world.

Inspiration for Keener comes from several places, with a focus on using regional and authentic Appalachian flavors. Many of our moonshines, like Coffee, Oatmeal Cookie, French Toast, and Chocolate, Keener derived from the nearby kitchens of the Old Mill Restaurants and Candy Kitchen. Our Cream Liqueur flavors were inspired by the homemade ice cream flavors at the Old Mill Creamery. The 1830s Original Moonshine line is true Appalachian flavors, highlighting Tennessee grains and the history of our area. Our Harvest Gin is as Tennessee as it gets, by fermenting local muscadine grapes and aging the distillate in Tennessee white oak barrels for a smooth and sweet finish.