Loading the page...

Our StoryWilliam Mac Sass in cornfield, black and white, abt. 1964.


Coulter & Payne Farm Distillery® is a small, family-owned company that focuses on high quality, sustainable, hand-crafted distilled spirits produced in small batches.  Each product is inspired by our distinct family cultures and traditions. Since its inception, Coulter & Payne® has been a leading small-batch producer of ultra-premium terroir and Estate-Grown Spirits that include Bourbon, Whiskey, and other distilled products.


Coulter & Payne Farm Distillery® is a small, family-owned company that focuses on high quality, sustainable, hand-crafted distilled spirits produced in small batches.  Each product is inspired by our distinct family cultures and traditions. Since its inception, Coulter & Payne® has been a leading small-batch producer of ultra-premium terroir and Estate-Grown Spirits that include Bourbon, Whiskey, and other distilled products.


As a true Farm Distillery, we actually grow our own non-GMO grain, harvest it, and store it in our grain bin.  We only use our grain, which we've selected, cultivated, grown, and ground to our specifications, in order to ensure that our product is of the highest quality.  We don't take shortcuts.  If the crop isn't ready, we don't harvest.  If the grain is poor, we don't use it in our product.  This is just one part of our process.  We take the same dedicated approach to every step in our process.  This is how we create a terroir product that is unique to our farm and process.  No one can mimic our taste profile or get the same results.  Unlike many other distilleries, we do not buy “Found” or pre-made whiskeys or GNS (Grain Neutral Spirits) and simply run them through our stills, or just cut them with water and bottle them.   Although this may be cheaper, in our opinion, it does not equate to a hand-crafted or premium product.


We focus on the “craft” in craft distillation. We consider ourselves to be artisans first, and beverage producers second. Everything we do revolves not only around the finished product, but how it comes into being. Our processes, traditional in nature, have been learned, honed, and crafted into a modern day replication of traditional methods. These methods have been passed down in our family for over 300 years.  We still do most everything by hand. From choosing and malting our own grain, to hand labeling our bottles, to actually stirring our mash, we focus on what is best for our product.


The names “Coulter” and “Payne” are family names from both main lines of our extended family.  These family lines also supply the connections and traditions that have allowed us to carry on our farm and distillery.  Whether it be the Grandparents that helped produce and bootleg Appalachian moonshine or the Great-Great-Grandfather that brought the farming tradition to Missouri, we wouldn't be here today without their influence and undying work ethic.  We owe them everything and will make sure to honor them in all that we do. We will continue to make the quality products that we've become famous for making. We hope you enjoy drinking them as much as we do making them.


Back to Discover

Information graphic illustrating the unique traditional ground to glass method used by Coulter and Payne to produce ultra-premium Bourbon, Whisk

Shawnee Bend Farms, Union, Missouri nonGMO cornfield early June 2015. Our Process


1. A Seed: It all starts with a seed.  In our case, it’s a seed of Non-GMO, Missouri Yellow Corn.  We plant it in the late spring in one of our “lower”, or river bottom, fields. We rotate between soy beans, Milo, Sweet Sorghum, and Corn, depending on the year.


2. Growing: The corn will grow from later spring until early fall. Once it’s finished, we’ll field, or stalk, dry in order to reduce the moisture content in the corn to the proper level. Provided that we do not have a drought or a flood, we should pull out around 110 bushels per acre.


3. Harvesting: Once grown and dried, we’ll harvest.  Our combine, which is our neighbors, strips the seed from the cob and the stalk, leaving us a fairly clean seed with little excess material.


4. Storage: We store our grain in our silo, or grain bin, until we are ready to grind it.


5. Grinding: Once needed, we pull out a few thousand pounds of corn and grind it in a PTO (tractor driven) feed grinder. Our grinder is over 50 years old and we share it with the other farmers in our valley. It belongs to old Bill, we think.


6. Water: We have some of the best water available for whiskey production. Our water is pumped from our spring and directly to the Distillery. It is not processed, but it is UV filtered to ensure that no microbes are present.  It is high in calcium and lacks any other mineral. Calcium is good for whiskey. It gets its calcium from the wonderful limestone of our aquifer. Kentucky bourbons claim that this is the reason that Kentucky bourbons are the best in the world. Our is just as good, if not better.


7. Cooking and Mashing: Once soaked, we cook the grain to liquefy and release the starches in our grain.


8. Fermentation: After the cook, we cool the mash and add our proprietary yeast. We do not adjust for ph, as our natural spring water, even after cooking, falls in the sweet spot every time. We open top ferment, which means we also catch other local, natural yeasts floating through the air. This adds to our unique flavor and can really be tasted in our White un-aged whiskey! As the mash ferments, it becomes more alcoholic and turns into a “beer” of around 10-15% ABV (alcohol by volume).


9. Distillation-Beer-stripping: Once fermented, we do at a minimum two distillation runs. The first, a “beer-stripping” run, pulls out all the alcohol and all the flavors in our “beer”. The distillate at this stage is called “low wines” and tastes horrible! It has all the upper or high alcohols, including any methanol, acetone, acetate, and all the flavors, including bad ones, and fusel oils. But, the low wines are infused with corn flavor that will shine through once cleaned in a “proofing run”.


10. Distillation-Proofing: After the first run, we do a second run, or “proofing” run. This run produces a clean, tasty spirit the ends up at around 150 proof. We also do our “head cut” during this run. Large whiskey companies cannot, and do not, make a head cut. This is why our bourbon and whiskey will not give someone a hangover. We take the first part of the run (anywhere between 1-15% of the total run) and cut it out. We'll add this to successive batches to recover the alcohol. Why such a range? It depends on taste. Some batches will have higher “bad” flavors than others. If we did it according to a formula or a particular percentage, our flavor matrix would be drastically inconsistent.


11. Aging: We then take that finished 150 proof distillate and do one of three things with it.

a.  Cut it down to 125 proof with distilled water and put it in a barrel for aging. This will become our bourbon. We use barrels made using Missouri White Oak grown in the Ozark Mountains.  The trees are cut into staves and air dried for 3 full years before they are assembled into our 15 gallon barrels.

b.  Cut it down to 100 proof and bottle it for our un-aged whiskey. Or

c.  Put it back into the still and run a third run (and sometimes 4 or 5) to produce our vodka to make starka.


12. Bottling: Once the product is finished, we hand bottle, hand label, and case it up for delivery.

Back to Discover

A secluded view of the private drive to Shawnee Bend Farms, Union, Missouri with the barn in the distance. 2014.Our Farm

Shawnee Bend Farms, is a sustainable agricultural bliss experiment, that is owned and operated by the Uphouse and Burnette families in a bend on the Bourbeuse River outside  Union, Missouri.


The Farm has been in the family for nearly 50 years and serves as the backdrop for the Distillery.  It is a serene place where the neighbors are as close as family. Which is good, since we value our community, our friends, and our family. We work diligently to maintain a good relationship with the surrounding residents and include them in our plans when possible.  We also work to ensure that they, if they are able and willing, are looked to first before looking to outside local vendors.  We try to keep it “in the family.”


Field to Glass

Glencairn glass in the center a corn spiral containing a shot of Coulter & Payne™ white whiskey (moonshine). 2012.

“Grain to Glass”, is a philosophy that places importance on buying all the grain used in the production of a distilled spirit directly from the farmers that grow it. In most cases, they try to source everything within 50-100 miles of their distillery. This helps to support the local economy, reduces emissions from the transportation of ingredients, and increases the control the distillery has over the quality of their products.  It also builds a sense of community.


To help fulfill our Vision and Mission, we have expanded the Grain to Glass idea into a Field to Glass philosophy. We grow everything we use on site at our own family farm, Shawnee Bend Farms outside Union, Missouri, located on the same ground as our distillery.  Every glass you drink comes 100% from ingredients grown, harvested, cleaned, processed, mashed, distilled, blended and bottled by our family on our farm.


So, in keeping with this philosophy, we present to you products made entirely of socially responsible non-GMO grains, sustainably grown on our farm using environmentally friendly methods, and hand-crafted in small batches into ultra premium distilled spirits for your pleasure.



“Welcome to the family.”


Use of Sustainable Farming


We use cover crops, no-till farming, crop rotation and other sustainable methods to ensure that our grain is environmentally friendly and socially responsible. We do not use pesticides or herbicides, even if that means we will get a lower yield.  We will not put anything in a bottle for you that we wouldn't eat or drink ourselves.   And that's saying something, as we're pretty picky.  We want to know who is producing our food, how it's done, and what is being used.  We also try not to waste anything.  This includes our land.  We're even going to use some of our cover crops as botanicals in some future products.


Riparian Zones


Bourbouse River bank at Shawnee Bend FarmsBecause we are surrounded on three sides by the Bourbouse River, we make sure that our fields are properly insulated from erosion with 20+ feet of riparian area all the way around the farm.  We have one trouble area, a hard bend in the river, that we are diligently working to stop the erosion and extend the riparian area to cover this zone.  Even in this area, we have not planted a crop in over five years and have introduced tough native grasses to shore up the soil and stand up to erosion.

Back to Discover

Mason jar of Coulter & Payne™ Small Batch Bourbon, still in background. 2014.Our Mission


Mission: To produce superior quality, small batch, great tasting, craft distilled spirits focusing on environmental stewardship and sustainability.

Bottle of Coulter & Payne™ Small Batch Missouri Bourbon Whiskey 750ML 80 Proof






























Vision: To become a leader in the craft industry while promoting the values of family farming, sustainability, and social responsibility.

Coulter & Payne Consulting

Coulter & Payne Farm Distillery® Union, Missouri.

All Rights Reserved.  2014-2015.