If you’re planning a trip to the area, check out all of our Wilmington, NC posts.
Last year, I was the cohost of a Twitter chat about breweries and distilleries in North Carolina. Part of the trouble with it, though, was I hadn’t been to any distilleries in North Carolina. I had gone to some in Tennessee (because that’s basically a must do in Gatlinburg), but they were pretty far and few between in the Tarheel State. Enter End of Days Distillery and Blue Shark Vodka in Wilmington, NC to fill that void.
End of Days Distillery — or EOD Distillery, as it’s commonly called — is Wilmington’s first distillery and tasting room. End of Days opened this month, February 1, 2020 to be exact.
Just ahead of it by nine months (but still after the Twitter chat I cohosted) was the opening of Blue Shark Vodka. Blue Shark Vodka was originally available on my and Pete’s wedding anniversary: June 21, 2019.
Though distilled in Wilmington, Blue Shark Vodka doesn’t have a tasting room and isn’t open to the public.
Both are a welcomed addition to break up the craft beer scene.
Craft beer is cool, but Wilmington has more than a baker’s dozen worth of breweries right now. And yes, this state isn’t called North Craftolina for nothing. But craft cocktails can also be a part of Craftolina.
End Of Days Distillery: Wilmington, NC’s First Distillery & Tasting Room
We were out and about over the weekend, finally getting a chance to check out the new New Anthem Beer Project location (110 Greenfield Street). When we were done there, I suggested we check out EOD Distillery. I wanted to see what it looked it.
I also thought it was closer than it was.
So, small aside: The new New Anthem location is right near the Container Building, which is right near the new New Anthem — and, if you’re familiar with Wilmington, it overlooks Satellite and houses Native Salt Cave & Wellness, Second Glass, and more. It’s part of the South Front District.
This is not to be confused with The Cargo District, Wilmington’s first container community with 600-square foot containers turned homes.
You can see how it was easy for me to confuse them, don’t you?
So, short story long, End Of Days Distillery (1815 Castle St) is not located by the new New Anthem, but we went anyway.
Although EOD Distillery only opened in February 2020, the idea started back in November 2018. Then-pest control company owner Shane Faulkner was talking to then-HVAC technician Steve Tomori about opening a distillery. I’m paraphrasing here, but Shane basically said to Steve, “If I give up this pest control business to open a distillery, will you work the back end of it?” Steve agreed, and that was that.
Construction on the hangar-turned-distillery started in May with Shane and Steve doing the bulk of the work. They hung the sheet rock, did the plumbing, electrical work, etc.
When we went, the tasting room was completely finished but the production room, where the distilling takes place, was only about 70% completed. EOD is still able to make spirits, that part is up and running, but there are some storage areas that need to be built, more fermenters that need to be brought in, large things for the business but small things for the consumer.
The distillery currently serves rum and vodka and is running gin trials as you read this. If all goes as planned, the End of Days gin will be ready in time for the North Carolina Azalea Festival.
Here’s the cool part about those three. When they’re done, they’ll be considered the Port of Entry Series. Buy all three bottles and the back of the labels will combine to form the Wilmington riverfront.
We did actually purchase a bottle of rum and vodka while we were there, both from Barrel 001. But no skyline for us because a last minute label production change meant EOD had to rush to get labels printed for the grand opening.
I completely emphasized with that because something very similar happened to us with Rita’s Wooden Spoon. We were ready to go and a last minute hiccup forced us to change printers and beg to get labels printed in time.
When we went, the line to get craft cocktails was long. But I mean, let’s be honest. The line at a bar moves fast because popping bottles and pouring drafts is quick. Creating cocktails is an art.
But the line wasn’t just because these drinks take a while. It was because the tasting room was packed. And, we heard through the grapevine, that’s something that the End Of Days Distillery owners were not exactly anticipating.
Oh sure, like any business owner, you dream of being a success. But (we heard) the EOD owners were thinking more of having customers come in, taste the spirits, and leave with a couple bottles. They didn’t anticipate having crowds sip cocktails and enjoy the afternoon there.
I’m paraphrasing some hearsay here, but I was told one of the owners said, “If we anticipated this, we would have built a bigger bar.”
It’s like that Field of Dreams quote, “If you build it; he will come.”
End of Days built a distillery in Wilmington, and lots of hes and shes have come.