St. Mary's Distillery Brings Back County's Moonshining History

Tobacco Barn Distillery in St. Mary’s County will launch its new bourbon this weekend at Historic Sotterley Plantation, bringing to light the county’s long history of distilling spirits—mostly illegally.

Visitors can get the first sips of First Landing Bourbon Saturday, November 4, along with some historical perspective. During Prohibition, St. Mary’s County emerged as a prolific producer of moonshine. Historians say its location, isolated with ready water access, helped it become a notorious moonshine county known around Maryland. Long before the well-known producers in Kentucky and Tennessee began to craft their signature spirits, St. Mary’s moonshiners were distilling whiskey.

Tobacco Barn Distillery aims to follow in the footsteps of those distillers, but they do it legally. The company uses old-school methods, but has also adopted environmentally-friendly solar, geothermal and heat recovery systems. It grows some of the corn used in the whiskey and bourbon right at the distillery, and buys the rest in Southern Maryland.

 First Landing Bourbon is Tobacco Barn Distillery's newest spirit
First Landing Bourbon is Tobacco Barn Distillery’s newest spirit

Saturday’s bourbon launch is from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Sotterley Plantation, and includes a bourbon tasting, light fare, and a 375 ml bottle to take home, as well as a boozy history lesson.

Tickets must be bought ahead of time at, and cost $100 including the take-home bottle.

-Meg Walburn Viviano