Who We Are
Three Generations of Proud Military Men, 80 Years of Moonshine Experience,
and a Good Ole’ Fashion love of hard work!
Justice Label was founded by Jason Justice, a Military man that had an idea: bringing the good folks of South Texas his grandfather’s (Papaw) Moonshine.
Fully self-funded, Veteran owned, and crafted by his own hand, this ‘shine is a labor of love.
Our ‘Shine is a family recipe that has worked its way down from the hills and hollers of West Virginia to South Texas.
This isn’t your off the shelf, watered down moonshine; it’s a full, in your face, make you knock the dust off them boots and get to dancing Moonshine!!
The strongest, most flavorful ‘shine you can get, without the law getting after you!
My grandfather is Jackie “Papaw” Justice, my father is Jack Justice. My grandfather was a moonshiner on and off from 1937 to 1955 he enlisted in the Army around 1947 at 17 years old and finished his commitment as an airman as the Army Air Corps split and officially became the Airforce. He made it through the Korean War in the Navy and shipped to the Vietnam War with the Marines as a Corpsman. He didn’t practice moonshining anymore after Vietnam but he passed much of the knowledge to me through stories and taking me to these places and meeting the friends and family that were all part of this real cultural period of Americana. They saw two world wars, survived the Great Depression and Prohibition. It was amazing, meeting these people and hearing the stories for an 8 year old it was like stepping back in time. They were war weary, had a certain distrust of the government and literally were reduced to surviving off the land and many did not survive the period. The Justice family primary occupation before the period was being judges, lawyers and lawmakers. Prohibition provided a means of much needed income to many of these people and entire families came together to form manufacturing and distribution of moonshine, it was an enterprise in and of itself. It wasn’t anything as sophisticated as the bootlegging operation of say, Al Capone but the stuff my grandfather made was all over the east coast and cutting as far south as Charleston, SC with the bulk of it ending up in Portsmouth, VA both places where family was living and would receive and distribute the moonshine.
I started the distillery in June of 2015 while finishing up my last military deployment in Sinton, Texas. It was a disaster response mission; I was the commander of the transportation company responsible for moving any assets West of the Mississippi River. I purchased a 6,000 square foot facility; it used to be a lumber yard, then RadioShack and finally an 8-liner game room until they were outlawed in the county. It is on a good cross road between I37 and I35 right off I77 in South Texas so it is a regular detour between those main thoroughfares. The distillery gets its primary grain, corn from the local grain elevator; B&P Elevator in Sinton that produces mainly deer corn and we get sweet corn from an organic farming operation; Picha Farms in Robstown, TX. We started out making moonshine and several flavored variations of it from the deer corn and sugar from the Rio Grande Valley. As it stands today, we source all of our spirit ingredients from within the state of Texas and are registered with the Texas Department of Agriculture’s GO Texan program which promotes Texas made and sourced products.
We have expanded nearly 300% since opening, today we utilize a large 250 gallon cast iron boiler with copper stack; that creation is about 20 foot tall at least. Our spirit still utilizes a 100 gallon stainless boiler with a 9 foot copper stack; it’s a cross between a reflux column and pot still that I’ve created. That’s another great thing; we’ve dramatically cut our overhead on equipment by making most of it ourselves. My father helps me refine and construct most of the equipment. For example, I wanted large open fermenters for volume fermentation so we framed in some areas in the warehouse and stretched some pond liner and in the space where only 3- 100 gallon fermenters were working before we are now able to ferment 1,000 gallons. We have 3 of these now, with another 2 nearing completion at the fraction of the cost and room of a large manufactured fermenting vessel.
Our primary grain is corn, our whiskey takes both the local Sinton corn and the sweet Robstown corn with about 10% rye – mainly to aid in the fermentation process by providing amylase, we ferment with solids and sell it as hog bait to hunters once complete. As of September last year the TTB put out an industry circular 2016-3 which states that corn whiskeys are no longer required to be barrel aged. We took that as our cue to get started on our Bronze Star products and purchased several glass vessels to age our whiskey with charred kiln dried and toasted white oak and pecan woods. We practiced the theory and process on one of our moonshines and created Papaw’s Charred Smooth Shine which further validated our decision to begin manufacturing in the whiskey category after having such success in the distilled spirit specialty category. So we had all of these 2.5 gallon glass jars that looked like barrels filling our store room for nearly a year, all spirit from the same run, each with several pieces of white oak and a piece of pecan wood. We did several quality checks throughout that time before settling on a good color and flavor profile and dumped them all into our bottling tank and allowed them to breathe for 24 hours. During that time I took the pieces of wood and burned them down into a charcoal which we then filter the spirit through as we bottle leaving it very smooth for a 90 proof whiskey.
So as it stands we have 3 generations of veterans actively involved in the distillery, it was Papaw’s recipe and my interest starting at 8 years old that leads us to where we are today. My three year old son is pretty interested in the business too so we may have a generational thing going with whiskey down the line; only time will tell. Under the Bronze Star products we intend to release cask strength by the end of the year or early 2018. Our bourbon will follow that; I’d like at least a couple of seasons on that product. I also plan on a straight whiskey and straight bourbon as our aged variations by 2020 they’ll be our Bronze Star “Captain’s Reserve” products. I haven’t made up my mind on peated or unpeated and single malt yet, it is definitely something I will experiment with either way. I am also working with a veteran owned brewery in the Mission, Texas; 5×5 Brewery, they will be purchasing our used barrels for their beers and we also engage in some cross-marketing.
We also have plans to utilize a veteran owned printer to handle all of our merchandising by the end of October. We also employ 3 veterans part-time and will continue to do so. Transitioning veterans need a good support system, especially if they are battling disability or PTSD, having dealt personally with both it really hits home for me. I have had success placing these individuals into roles that they can learn from and develop skills to succeed in a multi-billion dollar industry, giving them direction and a challenge is as rewarding to them as it is for me. A big thing I want to do with our bourbon that I’ve been planning is to donate a portion of proceeds to DAV, it’s a great organization that you can see at work; transporting veterans to their VA and medical appointments.