BELLE ISLE: OUR PHILOSOPHY + STORY
Here at Belle Isle, we’re in the business of good times. Much like the “beautiful island” we take our namesake from, we aim to be a bridge between opposite sides, a meeting point where good people come together and make great things happen.
That’s why we decided to bridge together lessons from the past, passion in the present, and dreams for the future, and bottle it all up to make something spectacular. And here’s what happens when you combine tried & true + something brand new.
You get Belle Isle Moonshine - a premium, handcrafted spirit to remind us where we’ve been and inspire where we’re headed next.
Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.
We take our namesake Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River in Richmond, VA. This little island has served as a community hub since the first settlers and explorers landed in Richmond.
Today, Belle Isle physically connects the north and south sides of the city by providing a meeting point between the two, where folks from all walks of life can come down and enjoy good company, get back to nature, and take in the spirit of Richmond.
Moonshine has gotten a bad rap over the years, but we’re out to spread the good word (and good moonshine). So how did this all start?
We’ve got to go back to the beginning, when early settlers in Virginia first began experimenting with native corn. Colonists quickly found that corn made for better beer - much better than the British ale they were used to. And after a few runs of corn through a shabby still, the corn whiskey “moonshine” was born.
Fast-forward a few years, where moonshine faded from popularity as barrel-aged whiskies became all the rage. Why? By aging spirits, they could mask the harsh flavors of unperfected moonshine.
It wasn’t until 1860s that moonshine would come back into the public eye, all thanks to Civil War soldiers taking a surplus of corn rations and elevating the moonshine distilling process by using copper kettles as higher quality stills. Where did this happen? On none other than Belle Isle itself.
With Prohibition following a few decades later, what Virginia knew and loved as moonshine became synonymous with all sorts of unregulated, untaxed, and impure distillates being distributed illegally throughout the country. By the time Prohibition was all said and done, the word “moonshine” had left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
That’s why, when brothers-in-law Vince Riggi and Brian Marks sat down together over a drink in 2013, they realized their dream of seeing moonshine on the shelf and in the hands of people everywhere. And not moonshine like we’ve come to know it; they dreamed up a premium moonshine, made using the same techniques passed down by our American ancestors, distilled from 100% organic corn, and made with only the best ingredients.