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Distiller says there is a new corn liquor in town

Gil Klemann, a partner in 13th Colony Distillery, describes the virtues of his distillery's new product, Southern Corn Whiskey, before giving a bottle to Donald Krack at the Friday Exchange Club lunch meeting.

Gil Klemann, a partner in 13th Colony Distillery, describes the virtues of his distillery's new product, Southern Corn Whiskey, before giving a bottle to Donald Krack at the Friday Exchange Club lunch meeting.

ALBANY, Ga. -- What would a physician who practiced obstetrics and gynecology for 35 years have to say to about 100 men at the Exchange Club lunch Friday?

How about if he talked about vodka, gin and corn liquor?

Dollie Dollar, who caters the club's meals as Grapevine Catering and sets a delicious but nonalcoholic table said, "He is talking to the right bunch about that."

A retired physician and now a partner in 13th Colony Distillery, Gil Klemann spoke at the Exchange Club of Albany meeting about entering the craft distillery trade after his retirement.

"We are the only legal functioning craft distillery in Georgia," Klemann said. "In the '70s, there were wine snobs. In the '80s and '90s, craft brewing put hundreds of beers out. Next could be the time for craft distilleries in the industry."

Entering a business that is highly regulated didn't deter Klemann and his friends from opening their distillery in 2009. Its first batch of Plantation Vodka came out in April.

The distillers then brought out the first of what would be called a "Southern series" of products in August. It was also vodka: Southern Vodka.

Southern Gin followed, and Sept. 15 the product that could ring the bell with Southerners, Southern Corn Whiskey, was produced for sale.

Klemann said unlike bourbon, which must contain 51 percent corn and corn whiskey, which must contain at least 80 percent corn according to law, 13th Colony Distillery's corn whiskey is 100 percent corn.

The idea behind hand-crafted corn whiskey and the vodka and gin his distillery produces is quality. Klemann said the water in Southwest Georgia and the local farm products his firm uses in the distilling process is the best in the country.

The difference between a hand-crafted bottle of liquor and a local brewer's production is notable, Klemann said.

"Over at (the) Miller brewery, they turn out 1,200 bottles a minute," he said. "We turn out 12 bottles a minute by hand-crafting."

One Exchangite would get a chance to taste the hand-crafted golden liquid. In a free lottery, Donald Krack won a fifth of Southern Corn Whiskey.

"I don't know about the corn whiskey," Krack said, "but I've had Plantation Vodka and it is really good."

Doing their usual Exchangite good turn, before Klemann spoke the club gave $500 to the Dougherty County Family Literacy Connection.

"We at the Family Literacy Connection thank you for your interest in our work with families," said Sandy Bamford, the organization's executive director. "We had eight graduates, and we are helping more families find their way out of poverty to get success."