Eda Rhyne Distilling Company in Asheville has a portfolio that currently consists only of different Italian-style liqueurs (at least one whiskey is in the works). The focus on herbal spirits is a bit strange given that they are located in the heart of moonshining country in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. Such spirits, however, are true to their other mountain routes, what Eda Rhyne’s founder calls the “ancient art of the hills.” Per the website:
The Blue Ridge was not only a difficult terrain but also a therapeutic landscape. Appalachia’s many micro-habitats are home to some 2,500 plant species, of which some 1,100 have been reported to have medicinal properties. Spirits often provided the perfect way of extracting the healing qualities of these plants.
Eda Rhyne Distillery is using the flavors of these regional medicinals to craft truly unique interpretations of traditional herbal liquors and other fine spirits. Our Appalachian Fernet, Amaro Flora, and Rustic Nocino use folk knowledge passed down for generations to capture a terroir that honors the land and the people of Southern Appalachia.
These “medicinals” are made using local heirloom grains and responsibly harvested botanicals, some grown on owner Rett Murphy’s farm and others “wild crafted” in the mountains around Asheville. We received samples of the Amaro Flora and the Appalachian Fernet for review. Let’s see how this mountain medicine tastes!
Eda Rhyne Amaro Flora – This one is referred to as “mountain bitter,” and you definitely get that on the nose. Notes of tree bark, pencil lead, and chalk impart an almost hop-like sharpness that turns floral with wet grass and dandelions. I get an earthy dried mud note, as well, alongside some waxy honeycomb which adds a touch of welcome sweetness. It’s captivating but quite unlike any amaro I’ve encountered. The palate is sweeter, but there’s still an impressive diversity of flavors. Notes of overripe peaches, elderberry, and cinnamon stick give way to bitter roots, anise, and sawdust on a gently drying finish. 72 proof. A- / $33
Eda Rhyne Appalachian Fernet – The nose on this Fernet is sweet and silky, unlike its more bitter Italian counterpart. It’s gently spiced with clove and ginger, licorice and peppercorn. Sweet notes of blackberry jam and cinnamon candies are balanced by earthy mushroom and wet tobacco. The bitterness is only really evident on the palate which hits up front with a woody bite that softens to reveal a mix of milky coffee, chocolate, and black tea. Star anise reprises the bitterness into the finish along with a lingering bit of baking chocolate and charred citrus. 80 proof. B+ / $35