Defiant Whisky shines in NYC

Team assisted with Hurricane Sandy, returning for fashion week
Feb. 02, 2014 @ 04:38 AM

When Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeastern United States in 2012, members of Defiant Marine rushed into New York to assist with the grueling aftermath.

When the hurricane's storm surge hit New York City on Oct. 29, streets, tunnels and subway lines flooded and power was cut around the city.

Defiant Marine, founded by Tim Ferris three years ago, is an international deep-sea diving salvage company consisting of divers, fabricators and welders working at the bottom of the ocean, often in far away lands for months on end. In addition to Ferris, Defiant Marine crew members include Todd Mumma, Dan August, Stryder Claridge and Bob Weihe, the eldest and most experienced of the team.

The crew lived in a camper in Battery Park and spent 11 days piping water out of the New York City subway, helping to get the transit system back up and operational.

In honor of their service, New York City Metro Transit Authority Superintendent David Bates presented the Defiant team with an original Inner-borough Rapid Transit sign that now hangs inside the distillery.

Members of Defiant Marine are the same guys who helped establish Blue Ridge Distilling Company in Golden Valley, N.C. in 2010 and produce its one-of-a-kind spirit, Defiant Whisky.

The spirit was included in the 2014 Grammy gift bags and is the signature whisky of the upcoming documentary and television series "Zero South," an expedition to the South Pole exclusively using batteries and biofuels.

The Defiant crew is returning to New York this month with their distinctive liquor as the Official Whisky of Nolcha Fashion Week.

A native of Connecticut, Ferris moved to Golden Valley during his high school years. He said he always wanted to start a distillery, and Defiant Marine is what inspired him to begin distilling a uniquely crafted spirit he named Defiant Whisky, which celebrated one year on the shelves last December.

“‘Spirit’ is a fitting word. I've always been interested in how you can put different ingredients together to make something entirely different,” Ferris said. “Distilling is a challenge where fear of the unknown shouldn't hold you back. Diving has that same spirit, working deep below sea level, blind on the bottom of the ocean and doing impossible tasks with a team.”

The Defiant Marine crew was responsible for the design and building of the distillery, which took less than two years to complete.

Along with Ferris, the distilling company includes distillers Joel Patrino and Eric Meech, office manager Lauren Kuchar, Defiant Marine crew member Weihe who serves as creative solutions specialist, and a chocolate lab named Ridge and mixed breed named Barley who are in charge of “quality control.”

Blue Ridge Distilling Company makes all of its own spirit in-house from start to finish. Ferris and his team are guided by Mother Nature, their intuition and four ingredients: American white oak, specially cultured yeast, two-row premium brewer's barley and pure water from the aquifer under the distillery.

“We're rethinking whisky by taking the best of Scottish tradition and combining it with American ingenuity,” Ferris said. "By focusing on our grain selection, water selection, and yeast selection and how to bring those all together during fermentation, we create a very clean spirit."

What is normally a five- to 10-year distilling and maturation process, Ferris and his crew achieve in two months. Instead of aging their whisky in barrels, the distillers use stainless steel and add cuts of hand-selected American white oak that is toasted to each made to order batch, creating a smoother finish.

The 82-proof end product has hints of caramel, honey, vanilla and oak.

“Nobody really taught us about distilling, we kind of taught ourselves,” Patrino said. “We don't just come in, turn on the machine and that's it. Every day is different and involves us trying new things and learning new methods.”

Defiant Whisky is sold mainly in the Southeast and along parts of the East Coast. It is currently available in ABC stores as near as North Carolina and Virginia and as far as New Jersey and Rhode Island. Ferris said batches have even been shipped to Singapore.

The spirit is also available for purchase at and can be shipped nationwide.

“We're starting a whisky revolution, charting a new course on the journey and we're doing it the Defiant way,” said Ferris.