More than Moonshine

A local distillery with a Willie Wonka vibe is creating high-end rum, whiskey and even moonshine.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

A boyish curiosity on Ozarks farmland may have helped start a new and rare distillery—one that even produces a high-end moonshine. Before the banjos start playing in your head, think of full-flavored, carefully-constructed liquor made with all-local products. “I want to dress up the moonshine,” says 42-year-old Jim Blansit, owner of Copper Run Distillery. “I don’t want it to be a hokey product.”

Blansit says you could start seeing more “hokey” moonshines in stores, because he believes micro-distilleries will start popping up like mushrooms, as microbreweries did in the ’90s. However, distilling rum or whiskey is more complex than brewing beer or making wine, and it’s strictly regulated. Perhaps that’s why Blansit is the first-known distiller in the Ozarks and one of a few across the state.

The Beginning

It started at age 13, when Blansit and his brother were growing up on their grandparents’ land in Walnut Shade. Their mother always whipped up things like homemade ketchup or peanut butter. “I always knew I could make anything I wanted to,” says Blansit. “Food didn’t come from the store.” And neither did the wine.

One day, Blansit and his brother threw some of their mother’s bread yeast into homemade grape juice. It fizzed, and a few days later, it fermented. “We didn’t even know what alcohol was,” says Blansit. At age 19, he learned how to brew beer from an article in Mother Earth News.

That year, his spirited curiosity led him to work at Stone Hill winery. He then moved to California to work in various microbreweries. Eventually, Blansit came back to the Ozarks to produce high-end balsamic vinegars. After 20 years or so, he wanted to try distilling.

Copper Run

The building itself is deceptive in size. It looks simple from the front, but as you walk to the back, you’ll suddenly find yourself in a charming sampling room, decorated with warm colors and reclaimed materials from the Blansit family farm. The production room looks like something you might see in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or at Silver Dollar City. There’s a large copper pot, pipes, gauges, and jars of liquid.

Blansit will tell you it’s where science meets art. In his mind, that large copper pot is gold. It’s technically a direct-fire copper pot that is “inefficient,” in Blansit’s words, though he says it’s much better than any modern, more expensive still. The direct-fire approach allows Blansit to create a smooth, single batch of whatever he’s producing.

Blansit is also proud of using local ingredients. “The whiskey that I made last was literally in the field the week before I got it,” he says. Corn, molasses, oak trees and clean Ozarks water are a few of the ingredients. He even reuses the corn as a high-protein livestock feed, and his water is re-circulated back into the distilling process.

He distills moonshine, rum, and vodka; though don’t put it past Blansit to experiment. His moonshine is particularly popular at the moment, because a growing number of customers are buying it by the case to mature on their own. Moonshine is basically un-aged whiskey—some customers want to age it in their own barrels, others want to put oak chips inside the bottle to watch it mature.

The Future

Blansit says he hopes Copper Run will become a Branson tourist destination—a mix between Silver Dollar City, Bass Pro and Big Cedar. He also wants to start hosting private parties in the Springfield area. For now, the local distillery can accommodate small parties at the 2-acre location, though there are already talks of expansion.

Though Blansit says he wants to grow bigger, he never wants to compete with the big boys, like Jack Daniels. Instead, he sees himself as a high-quality, truly unique distiller serving the Ozarks. And Blansit says, he’ll continue to do that at his family farm, the very place it all started. “I’ll spend the rest of my life distilling,” he says.

How to Get There
The scenic drive is an added feature to a Copper Run visit. It is located about 10 miles north of Branson, off Highway 65. If you're coming from the north: Take Highway 65 south, turn right on Highway 176 West (past Saddlebrooke), then take the first left onto Day Road. If you're coming from the south: Take Highway 65 north, take a left onto Bear Creek Road and stay straight until Bear Creek turns into Day Road.

Copper Run Distillery
1901 Day Rd., Walnut Shade,
Open 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Tues.–Sat.
Call in advance for private tastings or small groups.

More info: Copper Run Distillery is still working on its website. In the meantime, you can find them online at their blog ( or on Facebook (search “Copper Run Distillery” or “Jim Blansit”)

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More Articles Like This

50 Things Every 417-Lander Must Do

When do you know you’ve become fully initiated into your home? You can start by trying all the foods that are unique to the area. You can check the best sites off your bucket list. You can immerse yourself in the outdoors. And, let’s be honest, that can take years! This feature is your shortcut—a list of 50 things that every 417-lander should know, do or eat to be really and truly local.

Beneath the Surface: Controversy on the Buffalo National River

Since C&H Hog Farms opened its 2,500-sow operation in the Buffalo National River watershed in 2013, concerns involving the river’s safety and quality have been on the rise. We headed south to investigate the farm’s practices, learn about the potential threats to the watershed and examine the heart-felt passion of the many people involved.

Plan a Trip to the Emerald Isle or Hear Irish Tunes Locally

417 Magazine owner Joan Whitaker's maiden name is Sullivan so it’s only fitting that visiting Ireland was high on her bucket list. Here are her tips for planning a trip to the Emerald Isle and for enjoying Irish music locally if a trip isn’t for you.
Edit Module
Edit Module
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Sign up for our newsletters Follow us on Instagram

Edit ModuleShow Tags

  1. Why Pickleball is the New “It” Sport
    The number of places to play pickleball has doubled since 2010. Digital Director Dayle Duggins...
  2. Fall Festivals: 25 Way to Celebrate Fall Fun in 417-land
    We’ve rounded up the most delightful, most bizarre and most timeless fests around to add to...
  3. Republic’s Scuffed Edge Flea Market
    At Scuffed Edge in Republic, one creative maven shares her passion for refurbishing home decor.
  4. Goat Yoga is Your New Favorite Workout
    Our managing editor got bendy with some goats, and somehow among their bleats and bucks, her...
  5. 50 Things Every 417-Lander Must Do
    When do you know you’ve become fully initiated into your home? You can start by trying all the...
Edit Module
Edit Module