Chris Burnette is an avid whiskey maker and drinker, guitar player, environmentalist, attorney, family man, and advocate of the Oxford Comma and family farms. He currently serves as the President and Head Distiller at the Coulter & Payne Farm Distillery. Chris is responsible for all aspects of the company, including coming up with all the distillery's products and their recipes. This isn't limited to moonshine products, but whiskey, bourbon, and other products, as well. He is often sought out by commercial distillers for insight and training in the science and art of distilling and serves as a sales rep for a Artisan Still Design, a US based distillation equipment manufacturer. He currently consults with dozens of distilleries on production issues, equipment sourcing and installation, grain sourcing, permitting, legal compliance, and business start-up. He serves as CEO of Shawnee Bend Farms in Union, Missouri, and is a board member of the Tuli and Burnette Spirits Company, Ltd. in Nagpur, India.
He holds a Bachelor's degree in American Political Studies with a concentration in Environmental Law and Policy from Northern Arizona University, a Master of Arts degree in NonProfit Administration with a concentration in Public Management from Lindenwood University, and a Juris Doctor degree with a concentration in Urban Development, Land Use and Environmental Law from Saint Louis University School of Law. He currently serves on the Board of the Missouri Coalition for the Environmental and serves as either as an advisor or board member to other farm-based non-profits.
Chris' family has been in the United States since Jamestown Colony (1628-1630) and distilling has been a part of that tradition since the beginning. Having grown up in East Tennessee, moonshine was more than a novelty, it was a constant reminder of the family's origins. The first Burnette was distilling in Scotland as early as 1600, and other sides of his family began shortly after. Another line of his family had the first operating still in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, possibly in East Tennessee. Other family members include several men arrested for bootlegging during Prohibition and after, and actually had one great-uncle die in prison, after being caught for shining. The rest of his moonshining family has passed on, but not before Chris learned the family tradition. Being the first to pay taxes on his alcohol, Chris has a unique relationship with current, underground moonshiners. He is trusted by legal and illegal moonshiners alike to solve problems with their distillation processes and give feedback on their products.
Elise Burnette is an all around creative, spending most of her days working on some type of artwork. She currently utilizes all of her artistic talents as the VP of Marketing and Design for Coulter & Payne Farm Distillery, and owner of Shawnee Bend Farms, her family's farm, in Union, Missouri. She handles all design, photography, marketing, advertising, website, and events for the Distillery. Beyond that, she is also a brewer and distiller for the company. She may very well be the first female distiller in the State of Missouri and is only one of a handful nationwide. She also consults with other distilleries on marketing issues and branding. She loves moonshine, whiskey, and bourbon and can identify off flavors, and the probable reason, from the smell alone; before she ever takes a drink.
Elise holds Bachelors of Science Degrees in Secondary Technology Education specializing in Industrial Technology and Electronic Media with a minor in Photography from Northern Arizona University and a Master of Arts in Multimedia Design and Communications from Lindenwood University. She learned the art of distillation by working side by side with her family at the distillery and with her grandpa on the family farm. Her family has long lived connections with the production of alcohol, starting in Jamestown Colony also, including great-grandparents who were farm distillers, a grandfather who was a home brewer and home winemaker, and even a law man who made money on the side bootlegging during Prohibition. Her family also owned a grain and seed company in Kirkwood, Missouri, and she has brought that back to the family by turning their farm into a non-GMO grain producer. It is one of the first small farms in Missouri to be completely non-GMO, outside the Amish Community.
Spirits are a passion for both Elise and Chris, her husband. It's fitting that they now own and operate a small farm distillery on their family farm. Outside of their own companies, they are also members of the Missouri Farmer’s Union, the Missouri Chapter of the Sierra Club, the American Distilling Institute, the American Craft Spirits Association, Slow Food USA, and support countless others.
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