Distillery opens in Asheville as part of 'craft spirit boom'

By Stephanie Santostasi

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — Another distillery has popped up in Asheville as part of the craft spirit boom.

The Chemist is a newly formed apothecary beverage company that opened last month in the South Slope.

Not only is the gin it distills unique, so is the place in which it is distilled.

"We wanted the place to look like an old apothecary," co-founder James Donaldson said.

His wife is a pharmacist, so the idea of outfitting the business as a prohibition-era apothecary wasn't an accident.

The tasting room resembles a time when alcohol was only available via prescription.

"We started on this years ago," Donaldson said.

When people step in The Chemist, Donaldson said he hopes they feel like they're walking back in time.

The tasting room isn't the only place that stands out, though, so does the distillery room.

It's Anthony Mundy's sanctuary.

"I like the ability to just create and make something new," he said.

Mundy's the master distiller there.

"I guess what makes ours different is really our focus on making an American style gin [and] toning down the juniper and bringing out the citrus botanicals and things like that," he added.

Making The Chemist a reality wasn't easy.

"There's a lot of rules and regulations that we have to follow," Donaldson said.

He said working with the state to get the doors open wasn't bad, but working with the city was a different story.

"In Asheville, it has been kind of difficult to open one downtown just because we're under a lot of added scrutiny being right in the businesses district here," Donaldson explained.

But, it seems to be worth it after looking at the satisfaction on their customers' faces every time they take another sip.

We reached out to Explore Asheville to ask them about the importance of the beer and distillery business.

Marla Tambellini, deputy director, replied, "While I don’t have specific statistics about distilleries, we have seen growth in the percentage of visitors who indicate our culinary and beverage culture is a primary consideration in choosing to visit the Asheville area."