by Nancy Stiles
Mad Buffalo Distillery is launching a major rebranding initiative, starting with its name. It's now known as Coulter & Payne Farm Distillery. We talked to founder Chris Burnette about why the name change matters and what's next for Missouri's first craft distillery.
"It was really hard for us to focus on anything other than explaining what Mad Buffalo was," Burnette tells us. "We're one of fifteen distilleries in the country that actually grow their own grain, and we wanted our name to reflect that and make it easier to get that across, so we went with the name Farm Distillery -- we just put it right there in the name."
"Coulter" comes from Burnette's wife's family; her great-grandfather owned Coulter's Feed Store in Kirkwood. "We've taken that part of the family and made it alive again. The family's very supportive, so that's kind of neat," Burnette says. "Payne" is from his side of the family -- the original recipe came from Burnette's grandmother and her sister.
All of the Mad Buffalo products were sold under the "Thunderbeast" label, but they'll now be a little more differentiated, which Burnette hopes will make it easier to get the word out to consumers. The un-aged alcohols (moonshine, vodka) will be under the Crop Circle label, while the whiskeys (batch bourbon and single-barrel bourbon) will be under Coulter & Payne Whiskey.
What sets Coulter & Payne apart is that it's estate-grown, meaning everything (and we mean everything) is done onsite. The non-GMO corn is grown at the farm in Union, and it's milled, malted, mashed, fermented and distilled there, too.
"We're just hoping to let our current customers know that the name on our products will be changing and letting other people know what we do," Burnette says. "Not a lot of people have really caught on -- that's probably our fault for not educating people. We've got a real farm distillery in Missouri, and we make all our stuff from scratch on our farm just outside of St. Louis."