When Troy Ball and her family decided it was time to leave Austin, Texas, for a place with the same cool vibe but less traffic and better weather, they did an internet search for the best small towns in America. “Asheville kept showing up at the top of all those lists,” she recalls. They moved in 2003, and in 2010, Ball launched Troy & Sons at Asheville Distilling Co., makers of handcrafted American whiskeys, including T&S Platinum, the first premium American moonshine.
“We wanted to base our company where we live,” Ball says. As she got to know Asheville, she found a progressive environment, a willingness to support new brands and a commitment to local ownership — all favorable elements for starting a business. In addition, Asheville is such an authentic food and beverage town that a business that revives an age-old distilling process seemed like a natural fit.
With six full-time employees, Troy & Sons operates a 5,000-liter still, one of largest craft distilleries in America. Ball also helped to create an accelerated-aging company, which is housed at Asheville Distilling Company. This innovative technology allows for whiskey aging in as little as 11 minutes and is used on private-label products.
The area is a definite draw when it comes to attracting talent, Ball says.
“People are eager to live in Asheville. It has to do with the environment and the culture.”
Ball also values the diverse business community with large, established companies like Biltmore Estate working hand-in-hand with boutique restaurants and other small businesses. “The food and beverage community in Asheville is well connected,” she notes. A frequent speaker at local clubs and other organizations, Ball is a founding member of Hatch, an incubator for startup companies, and served on the board of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College for three years. The mother of three sons, including two with special needs, Ball recently established The Tacirring Foundation with her son Marshall, dedicated to teaching love through art, words and music.
The North Carolina mountains offer unique benefits to Ball personally and to Troy & Sons as a company. An equestrian who raced endurance horses for many years, Ball still takes advantage of the mountain riding trail system. The inspiration and the education for the business grew out of the area’s moonshine history. Ball learned her craft from moonshine makers in and around Asheville, and she continues to buy corn from local farmers; in fact, one variety of heirloom white corn used in T&S Platinum, Crooked Creek, will only grow in the area’s mountain valleys.
Troy & Sons’ “Asheville born and bred” whiskeys have received several awards, including a gold medal for T&S Platinum from the Beverage Tasting Institute. Ball is especially proud of the fact that the spirits have earned a spot on the menu at Disney resorts. As the distillery’s founder and owner says, “We proved you can make an excellent version of moonshine.”