HOCHATHOWN, Okla. (KFOR) — Along the banks of the original Mountain Fork River, in narrow canyons and thick tree cover, illegal moonshiners took advantage of good water and back roads for more than a century.
“The history goes back several generations,” says current distiller Mitchell McDaniel.
He grew up north of ‘Old Hochatown’, now sitting at the bottom of Broken Bow Lake, and heard stories of those wild days of the not-so-distant past.
“It was pretty familiar territory to us,” he smiles.
He even carried a piece of it in the form of the old Jones family still in a bar setting where he can pour a nice, aged bourbon of his own.
“This is a bourbon drinker’s bourbon,” Mitchell tells us as he pours a glass of his product, “and matched based on flavor profile.”
The McDaniel brothers started the Hochatown Distilling Company completely above board back in 2015.
It took months of experimenting to get just the right blends of barley, rye, corn and yeast but they wanted their bourbon to be all theirs.
“We wanted a product that was made completely on site, and be a truly Oklahoma made bourbon,” he explains.
There are previously stated reasons this part of McCurtain County had such a good reputation for distilling.
Pure water low in iron topped the list.
Mitchell, a former chemist, also tells us the climate is perfect for aging in barrels.
“All of our bourbons are aged in the 3 1/2 to 4 year range. They’ve all spent 4 summers in the barrel.”
While we were there, a local gentleman, Charlie Benton, who claims to be quite familiar with the local outlaw ‘hooch’ of the past and present, insists the McDaniels are doing it right.
“I’ve known some moonshiners. I certainly have,” he states. “This stuff is awesome.”
It took years for those first barrels to be ready, but the McDaniels didn’t waste time.
They have a craft brewery in ‘New Hochatown’ now, a gift shop with t-shirts.
They’re a tourist destination with an extra kick.
“We have very positive feedback,” McDaniel tells us.
Mark your calendars for December of 2024 too.
That’s when this signed barrel of bourbon will be ready to tap, better with age, and delivered in the perfect Oklahoma spot.