HELENA, Ark. — A new business in Helena, Arkansas is creating a buzz. Delta Dirt Distillery is the only Black farm distillery in America.
“Magic happens in the copper pot,” said Harvey Williams, co-founder of Delta Dirt Distillery.
The distillery can make up to 350 cases of vodka a month.
“I’m learning a lot more that, hey, you guys are making yourselves proud, family proud but you are making a lot of Black Americans proud,” said Williams.
Tucked away in Helena, surrounded by boarded-up businesses on Cherry Street, is Arkansas’ first and only Black-owned vodka distillery. Delta Dirt Distillery is the manifestation of four generations of work.
“He brought our farm in 1949 with money from picking this cotton and moonshine,” said Williams.
The farm that was purchased by Williams’ granddad now produces the two main ingredients in the family’s award-winning vodka. One ingredient is corn and there is another ingredient you might not expect.
“Sweet potatoes – it’s a reason why not a lot of people are using sweet potatoes. They are really difficult to extract that sugar and convert those into fermentable sugars,” said Williams.
Less than five companies across the country use sweet potatoes to make vodka. However, Williams, his wife and two sons have it all figured out. They work together to continue the legacy now.
“I worked with my dad on the farm. I’m working with my sons here and hopefully they have good memories of that – us building something together,” said Williams.
Every weekend, people from across the world discover this hidden gem.
“I really would like to see this area revitalized. We’ve seen areas like this and (areas) with even less appeal than Helena and Cherry Street be revitalized,” said Williams.
It starts with the Williamses “raising spirits in the Delta,” one bottle at a time.
“If you have a dream. Go for it. Ask for help and pursue it with everything you got,” said Williams.