According to founder Gary Hinegardner, Wood Hat Spirits sprang from an epiphany: Missouri is home to dense forests of white oak that supply the worldwide whiskey industry with barrels for aging, and the state grows plenty of corn and wheat. With the two key ingredients nearby, why not open a distillery and make whiskey in Missouri?
As for the handmade wood hats, well, Hinegardner loves them, so why not sell them too?
Since its opening in 2014, Wood Hat Spirits has sold wood hats and served award-winning whiskey. The fact that everything is local allows Hinegardner and co. to experiment with ingredients: They prefer chinquapin oak for their barrels, and while nearly all American whiskey and bourbon is made with a yellow commodity corn, they make their signature whiskey with Hopi blue corn, a gorgeous grain bred by the tribe and made into foods for important ceremonies. Other whiskeys, such as their Bloody Butcher Red Corn Whiskey, also come from heirloom maizes, all distilled in a wood-fired still, which is rare in the United States.
When you enter Wood Hat Spirits, you’ll find headwear on display. A passion project, each is whittled down from a large piece of green wood, with Hinegardner working in the dark, observing light pass through the wood and applying the lessons of his renowned Scandinavian teacher. Try one on; they’re lighter than you’d expect.
Know Before You Go
The distillery is open for tastings during business hours; tours can be scheduled over the phone. In addition to whiskey, Wood Hat Spirits sells bourbons and cordials, such as a black walnut liqueur and persimmon cordial.