Devin Metzger is the new head distiller at Paducah Distilled Spirits,and he loves the craft which produces these delicious beverages. He’s a musician and a father who cherishes his children and counts Sunday as his favorite day of the week. iMeet this music-makin’, moonshine-brewin’ man of many talents.
Welcome to iMeet, Devin. We hear you’re from Mayfield but spent time in Los Angleles…
I was born in Mayfield, and raised in Wingo - where I lived until I was 17. I graduated from Graves County and attended Murray State University as a theatre major for three years. Then I hightailed it outta Kentucky to live in the city of angels for a few years.
I acted in two wonderful westerns and a couple of lower quality vampire flicks. Most of my time in the big ole city was spent pursuing the escape of rock n roll. I fronted and managed a six-piece rock band I called “Latter day Bard” o and had some rather exciting times there and in between.
I’ve performed on many a stage, immersed myself in many characters, but my most important role yet by far is being a Dad.
Nice segue – so, tell us about your family...
I don’t exactly believe in marriage myself, but to each their own! I do happen to have a lovely lady, who takes care of me and our beautiful children. We have all girls as of now and I have two sons from my earlier desperado days.
My sons are the reason I moved back to Kentucky. I enjoyed California and had plenty of work there. But it was impossible for me to be so far away from my boys, pursuing my passion or not. So, I moved back to make myself available to them always.
Tell us about your position at Paducah Distilled Spirits, The Moonshine Company...
I’ve been at PDS for two years now. I worked at a pretty fancy liquor store out in Glendale California. I ran their wine, beer, & bourbon tastings. I also ran room service for the Chateau Marmont for a spell. So, I had to know plenty about today’s wine, craft beer, & craft spirits world as well as being personally invested.
Anyway, the two distillers at the time took a liking to me and together they taught me two very different sides of the process. I learn quickly and I felt like it was the perfect craft to pour my passion into at this point of my life. I had also run a few small stills in some undisclosed locations and knew how rewarding it was to have my very own “white whiskey” after an intense day of distillation.
You are now the head distiller! Congrats! What does your job entail? Tell us about a typical day for you...
Thank you! I don’t get typical days anymore. Lately I’ve met with local farmers for things like corn, grain, & cider. I’m pretty OCD and like for everything to be as natural as possible. This work’s great for today’s market and takes plenty of time (60-hour work weeks), research, and hard work to transition an entire distillery into the monster it’s becoming. There is still so much work to be done and always will be. But I’m happy with the changes we’ve made and where it looks like we’re heading.
We now only used local corn, grain, cider and I’ve modified the portions within the mash build. We’re running much more efficiently than ever before.
I’m in charge of selecting the corn, grains, yeast, sugar, and ingredients for flavor. I also run the stills when fermentation is complete and make all the flavors after distillation. Our new Apple Pie moonshine, for example, is now made with only real cider (from Wurth’s Farm), fresh ground cinnamon, and brown sugar. Simple, smooth, & delicious! The way it should be in my opinion - no syrup or additives.
I hear you guys are about the start distributing nationwide. How exciting! Tell us about that...will this make your job more stressful?
It’ll definitely make it necessary to have a larger crew, and yes, it will add a bit more stress to get the right guys and gals in here.
Tell us about how you make your moonshine...
The original recipe that Paducah Distilled Spirits has always boasted is the double distilled, yellow corn and barley, called Uncle Mosey's. It’s fermented like a classic corn and grain moonshine, naturally, with yellow corn, barley, sugar, yeast, and reverse osmosis water.
It takes a little over a week to ferment, two days to distill (12 hours each day) and then cutting it to a desired sippin’ proof, which in Mosey's case is 90. Flavors take an extra day to mix down & get just right.
Do you guys only make moonshine or are there other spirits too?
We’ve only ever made moonshine, and the craft has come a long way. We’ve also barrel aged our shine three times now and had a really unique and complex product every time. It’s called Paducah Amber, and I’ll have a new barrel ready before Christmas!
I’d absolutely love to give Paducah its first whiskey label. I spent a year in Chattanooga just after Chattanooga Whiskey came out. They make an excellent sippin’ whiskey, and I love how simple their branding was. I’d be honored to give something like that to Paducah. I’m proud to be some small part of this community now and feel like Paducah deserves its own straight whiskey label.
There won’t be any sugar in the mash and both the pre-fermentation and fermentation process will take much longer. But after 12 to 18 months in a barrel, the wait will be so worth it!
It says on the PDS website that there is a hall of artifact stills and moonshine history exhibits. Tell us about some of those...
We have some great hand-built stills on display within the museum, dating back even before the 1900s. We have a prohibition piece, a wagon bed still, a submarine pot, and more. No two are the same and they’re from all over. We have ‘em from LBL, east Kentucky, Oklahoma, etc.
What’s happening with your musical career?
Southern gothic storytelling is one of the more accurate descriptions I've heard to describe my music. I call it “Latter day Bard” when I play with a band and have pressed a vinyl with this not-so-catchy band name. I’m currently recording Latter day Bard II at Loud & Clear with Shelby Precklas & Stephen Montgomery.
The band and I just played Oktoberfest here in Paducah and had a blast. It was a beautiful day, and I was happy to be a part of something so cool and close to home and to also have a daytime gig for the family to enjoy.
As Latter day Bard I’ve played famous venues like The Viper Room & Molly Malone’s in Hollywood, I’ve played a handful of festivals, and toured from Chattanooga Tennessee, through Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City, Utah. I’ve played countless gigs since I was 14, been playing since I was 8, and even had some success as a recording artist for Sony Records.
What is the best part of your job? What is the hardest? Either job that is...
Hardest is self-promotion. Best is losing myself in the craft, which, of course, applies to both whiskey and music. But for me, I believe music is a place and a part of our soul travels there when we “lose ourselves” in music. I get to lose myself in the tunes that I write and I love doing so. It makes the hard work and everything life has thrown my way worth it so far.
Favorite place to eat in Paducah? Favorite dish there?
We love Big Ed's for a quick bite. Frog legs are my favorite, with the best mac-n-cheese you’ll ever eat and green beans the way they should be.
I’ve taken the lady to Freight House once and feel like that would be our favorite for a date. For obvious reasons we were both blown away by the atmosphere, food, and staff there. I’d be honored to have them feature our whiskey once it’s ready!
What's your favorite day of the week and why?
Sundays. It’s family day. No time for work or anything besides them on that day.
What are number 1 and 2 on your bucket list? Do you have any plans to make them happen anytime soon?
I’ve always loved to travel. Through middle and high school it was for martial arts tournaments and soccer. I did some travelling for theatre in college, and music brought me all over the beautiful country. While I'd love to see the rest of it, I think a European trip would be worth a spot on a bucket list. Sadly, I’ve never been outta the country and I think they’d dig my tunes and whiskey over there.
To have my own whiskey label and eventually my own business…a distillery/restaurant is the dream. Most importantly, to leave my children something tangible. Not just some legend and some dusty old records. I obviously care very much about the music I write & release. But that’s not all that matters to me anymore.