Reading Matters

Troy Ball put ‘the devil in whiskey’

You gotta love Troy Ball. She’s the author (with Bret Witter) of “Pure Heart: A Spirited Tale of Grace, Grit and Whiskey.” She’s also the founder of Troy & Sons, makers of the “first true American moonshine.”

Ball grew up in Texas but says that her boots are fashion boots, not cowboy boots. That she always wears pearls. And that she’s no drinker. Her first taste of alcohol, she says, was a glass of red wine when she was 40.

But Ball got bored, and boredom got her going.

Sure, as a girl, she’d had dreams. And one of her dreams was to marry and have kids. She did that. Two of her three children have special needs, and because of them, she moved her family near Asheville, hoping the cleaner air would help them.

But she was lonely and bored and, yes, desperate – a desperation that led her back to one of her earliest dreams – to be an entrepreneur like her dad.

“As soon as an old mountain man handed me a mason jar of the ‘keeper ‘shine,’ as he called it, I wanted to learn everything about it,” she writes. “I wanted to make it, then make it legal.” Real moonshine wasn’t “rotgut garbage.” It had a tradition and a history, “and it was one of the best hard liqors the world had ever known.”

Ball used a brick gauge to measure the fermentation of her mash and high tech thermometers to measure internal temperatures. She measured and she charted. “The details,” she writes, “put the devil in the whiskey.”

Ball hoped that moonshine would save her soul. But actually, moonshine helped to save her family from financial disaster.

I promise: her story will make you drunk with excitement.