Dry Run Spirits is a destination distillery for so many reasons.
WEST VIRGINIA’S CRAFT BEVERAGE INDUSTRY IS BOOMING with unique libations these days—but none has quite the extraordinary lineage of the small-batch products coming out of Dry Run Spirits in Pendleton County. Dry Run has revived the copper-still tradition on a farm historically known for its apple moonshine, using the very same apple trees that grew there a century ago. The distillery’s maple spirits are from trees tapped on-site, too, making it a true tree-to-bottle operation.
Jeff Munn produces these delights at his small distillery on this historic, 200-acre farm near Franklin. It wasn’t how he imagined his retirement from the military— but this charismatic property has taken him and his wife, Teresa, unexpected places since they inherited it from his parents in 2010.
The Pitsenbarger Farm
The original farmstead was settled in the 1790s on the main path over the ridge between Franklin, on the South Branch of the Potomac River, and Sugar Grove, on the South Fork of the South Branch. When the owner died in 1830, his widow sold the farm to John Propst, Jeff Munn explains. Propst likely started the moonshine tradition here— he was known as “Stiller John.”
The Propst family, and later, grandson Ananias Pitsenbarger’s family, developed the farm over nearly 150 years. They were stunningly self-sufficient. They raised cattle, sheep, ducks, chickens, and pigs and did their own butchering. They kept bee hives and boiled maple sap. They grew corn, hay, and tobacco, tended gardens and fruit trees, and harvested ginseng. They plowed using horse power right into the 1960s. And they built 23 buildings—a blacksmith shop, a sugar shack, and others—to accommodate their labors.
But don’t think they didn’t have fun: The Pitsenbarger farm was known as Loafer’s Glory for the generous feasts and dances that followed community activities like hog butchering and apple pressing—and maybe also thanks to the distilled spirits that fueled the merriment.
Ananias Pitsenbarger’s last living child, Gilbert, died in 1973 and left the farm to an intimate of the family who was unable to live there. So when Jeff Munn’s parents bought the property at auction in 1987, it had been unoccupied for 14 years. They built a modern log house and put metal roofs on the buildings that still stood, preserving the legacy.
Jeff and Teresa Munn have made an avocation of learning the history of their extraordinary property and sharing it with others. Relying on a depth of local knowledge and on historical research, Teresa Munn got the farm listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s its own historic district, with 16 of the original 23 buildings in place, including the 1845 log house, barns, a springhouse, and a WPA “flyproof” privy.
The couple constructed several cozy cabins and developed 5 miles of trails on the property and established Loafer’s Glory Resort. They rent it as a distinctive and hospitable event venue with a catering kitchen, overnight accommodations, and spectacular outdoor spaces.
Dry Run Spirits
Becoming aware of the connection between his property’s gnarled apple trees and its storied moonshine history drew longtime homebrewer Jeff Munn into distillation. He began preserving the farm’s apple lineages—tart cider varieties yet to be identified—by grafting scions of the nearly failing trees onto new rootstock. As he revived the orchard, he started Dry Run Spirits to process its fruits. His Apple Brandy, distilled to 155 proof and diluted to 90 proof with the farm’s own spring water, has a distinct apple aroma and mild sweetness. The lighter, sweeter Apple Pie, blended down to 60 proof with apple juice, is an enjoyable after-dinner liqueur.
Then he started making Maple Syrup Moonshine—not by infusing corn liquor with maple flavor, as some do, but by fermenting his own maple sap and distilling that. The end result has a slightly buttery, 90-proof kick. Through experimentation with nearby Future Generations University, he’s learned that he can also ferment and distill other growers’ late-season “buddy” sap that cannot be used for maple syrup, turning what could have been wasted into great-tasting, 100% West Virginia maple moonshine.
Dry Run Spirits’ products can only be purchased on-site. Visit at a time when Munn can give you his eye-opening distillery tour—be sure to ask his thoughts on the history of the term “apple jack.” Take the time to explore the trails, and you’ll begin to understand the magic that makes this a destination distillery. “It’s the history, it’s the apple trees, it’s the maples, it’s the weddings, it’s the moonshine,” he says. “All of this has been going on here for 150, almost 200 years.”
3576 Dry Run Road, Franklin, 304.358.7034, “Dry Run Spirits” on FB
CORRECTION: This story corrects the version that appeared in our Spring 2023 print issue by identifying the location of Dry Run Spirits as Pendleton County.