To say that Dave Angel has ‘elevated’ distilling to a fine art is an understatement.

I stand in awe of Elevated Mountain Distilling’s 29-foot tall, gleaming chrome and polished copper still every time I visit ‘Dave and Company’ in Maggie Valley.

I also marvel at Angel’s knowledge and passion for distilling that ‘shines’ through each and every presentation. Angel was born and raised ‘round these parts’ and is a long-time friend of local moonshiners.

Way back in the day, he made a little moonshine whiskey himself, and though he traveled far and wide during his career, Angel always longed to return home to his mountain roots. 

In the fall of 2016, Dave and Sue Angel turned the dream into reality, opening Elevated Mountain Distilling in Maggie Valley.

His equipment is a far cry from the crude, cobbled-together copper stills of days gone by, but I recently joined a tour group from Leap Frog Tours, to see that Angel still knows how to make a good batch of moonshine.

“The Magic of Making Moonshine Tour”

(A 3-5-hour, hands-on moonshining experience.)

If you ever wanted to be a moonshiner, this is your chance.

From start to finish, master distiller Dave Angel guides tour-goers through the process of sourcing the corn, mixing the mash and distilling the liquor — until that elusive ‘white lightnin’ fills up the jug. Weather-permitting, all this will take place creekside, with rushing Jonathan Creek as the backdrop.

You’ll see the magic of the still dripping before your eyes as you wait patiently — going from the “heads” (“too bitter”) to the “hearts” (“fill your jar”) to the “tails” (“you’re done”)

After working hard to make a batch of ‘shine, you'll enjoy lunch and taste the fruits of your labor.

During the mash-in process, Angel will share his extensive knowledge of Western NC moonshine legends and folk-lore. He'll also tell you how modern, commercial moonshiners ply their trade.

At the end of the excursion, you’ll have a greater appreciation of moonshine, some good stories, a souvenir tasting glass and a bottle of completely legit moonshine.

“The Magic of Making Moonshine Tour” also includes a full tour of Elevated Mountain Distilling’s work-of-art still, an explanation of how it works and a sampling of products.

Dave Angel really knows his stuff. The proof is in the tasting.

To book Leap Frog Tours, “The Magic of Moonshine Tour,” visit and click the ‘Tours’ button. 

For more information on tastings and events at Elevated Mountain Distilling, visit And remember, every fourth Saturday night, the distillery is filled with live bluegrass music. EMD is at 3732 Soco Rd., Maggie Valley.

And if you want to make a toast to the Scots/Irish who brought moonshining to the mountains, you have permission to use my mother’s favorite, “Here’s to looking up your kilts.”


Paul Viau is an award-winning creative director, with a 30-year career in advertising and marketing. Originally from Denver, Colorado, he met his wife, Carol, when they worked for rival advertising agencies in Miami, Florida. They became permanent residents of Haywood County in 2008 and reside in Waynesville. 

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