Simple Man Distillery, a humble craft spirits producer in the Atlanta area, is known for using the wonders of the Georgia agriculture industry in its recipes. The name comes from the idea that simple ingredients can make a fantastic product, and we should all care for our neighbors. Owner and founder Justin Douglas has created a unique business that captures the essence and flavor of Georgia.
Douglas and his team drive around the state, working with top farmers to get the best produce. They pick up peaches, apples, and botanicals for the respective vodka, brandy, and gin lines. It gives Douglas a source outside the wholesaler with produce grown locally, guaranteeing more freshness.
In addition, buying within Georgia benefits the state’s economy and farmers’ livelihoods. Douglas, a Georgia boy born and raised, knows this better than anyone.
“There’s a historically high rate of bankruptcy in agriculture,” he explained to The Business Download. “I try to work with single-family-owned farms to get all my ingredients. It’s not a rigid rule, but it’s a tried and true process.”
Photo Courtesy Simple Man Distillery
Simple Man’s efforts earned it a “Georgia Grown” designation from the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
Some farms Douglas works with are Dickey Farms for peaches, Penland Orchards for apples, and Gilliard Farms for botanicals. The gin is a collaborative effort with James Beard-nominated chef Matthew Raiford. Gilliard is the farm Raiford’s family has worked for over seven generations, growing lovely botanicals infused in Simple Man’s gin.
Douglas got into making alcohol after attending a distilling camp in Kentucky. Before this, he worked in the corporate world, which required extensive travel. Douglas saw many restaurants using the farm-to-table concept. He realized if craft beer could do similar practices in brewing, spirit-producing could, too. Farm-to-table becomes farm-to-glass.
Customer reaction has been great. Making the product, though, is tougher. “Vodka is a commodity. It’s been hard to see true craft and body production,” Douglas explained. “It’s a challenge to get the product out there.”
He said the gin and the brandy have been more successful thanks to the brandy’s free-base spirit body and the terroirs from Gilliard Farms.
If you’re looking to get any of these delicious liquors, act fast because they aren’t around for long. All of Simple Man’s products are seasonal, so supplies are limited.
Also, due to Georgia’s liquor laws, you must live in the state to buy these spirits. Being an independent producer, Simple Man is unable to distribute its alcohol. The state prohibits online sales of alcohol, and everything must be done through third-party distributors.
Photo Courtesy Cumming City Center
But there’s a silver lining in all this. In November 2022, Gwinnett Magazine reported Simple Man was opening a permanent space in Cumming City Center. On June 3, 2022, the Center posted a release expressing their excitement about the distillery. The location is under construction and will be opening soon. It was set up with a view of Cumming City’s idyllic Lou Sobh amphitheater. A pop-up kitchen featuring local chefs is right next door.
“Control of our own production will allow us to create incredible regular and special releases showcasing what Georgia farmers can do,” Douglas said in a press release. “Amazing flavors are captured using fresh produce that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. We want to show that liquor can have as much terroir as wine!”In addition to propping up Georgia’s agricultural sector, Simple Man looks after others. A portion of sales is donated to addiction recovery efforts. It’s amazing what a small business can do for a state’s economy and prosperity.