Oaklee Distilling Helps Wendell Revitalization Efforts One Boots Vodka Bottle at a Time

Wendell, North Carolina, historically a small tobacco-farming town, is located 20 miles outside of downtown Raleigh. Like most small southern towns, it has a little main street and beautiful homes with southern porches that once belonged to the town's elite. There is not much hustle and bustle in Wendell any more. Things move at a slower pace here. At 10 a.m, most things were closed except for a local grill and a cute little coffee shop.

Main Street of Wendell, NC

Wendell has a bank or two, a wine shop, a general store and hip and cool distillery, called Oaklee Distilling Co.

Lee Browne, a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate carefully restored the town's old movie theatre and turned it into Oaklee Distilling Co. He said he got the craft spirits idea while in college.

Oaklee Distilling Co.

Oaklee's first production on the market is called Boots Vodka and is made from local sweet potatoes and corn. Browne will soon follow with gin and bourbon production at the distillery.

Boots is Lee's old childhood nickname, and is now the name behind it signature vodka. It's marketed as  "Vodka with Traction" because it is higher than 90 proof, slightly higher than the usual vodka product of 80 proof.

Everything from bottling to sealing to sending the vodka bottles to the distributor is done in Wendell. When the distillery is in production, there are some long days in this sleepy little bedroom town.

Boots Vodka is 90 proof, higher than the usual vodka product

Browne says that most everyone who lives in the town has come through so now he only offers group tours by appointment.

He started the distillery process in 2014, and at the same time, a huge new neighborhood a few miles from main street called Wendell Falls went under construction. Each year, new sections of the neighborhood develop and now commercial retail is in the works. This one neighborhood development will bring over 5,000 homes to the Eastern side of Wake County when it is completed. And there is plenty more room from growth in this area. The Wendell Falls development has a resort pool, a farmers market and place for concerts. It also has homes a lot cheaper than in downtown Raleigh.

Now that people are moving to Wendell, North Carolina again, all Browne needs now is more restaurants in Wendell that will serve craft spirits using his liquor. I don't think he will have to wait long.

Oaklee Distilling Co. is located in Wendell, N.C.

Boots Vodka from Oaklee Distilling Co can be purchased in local ABC stores in North Carolina and Virginia.

North Carolina has a new distillery in Wendell, NC. Oaklee Distilling Co. produces Boots Vodka, Vodka with Traction made with NC sweet potatoes and corn. It's 90 proof which is slightly higher than usual vodka products. It's available in ABC stores in N.C and Virginia.


Toffee Coffee Recipe from Asheville's Biltmore Estate

Have I told you that I love Bailey's Irish Cream? I really love it in coffee as an after-dinner drink. I love Bailey's Irish Cream so much that one could really accuse me of naming my cat after the liquor. I did put a shot of Bailey's in my coffee about the exact time I threw-out Bailey as a name for our 20-pound, green-eyed, black cat. 

We no longer have Bailey the cat, but I do have Bailey's Irish Cream in my kitchen along with 12 glass coffee mugs.

Who wants to come over for Toffee Coffee?  This coffee recipe is this  recipe courtesy of the Biltmore Estate.  The Spring is a great time to visit the estate for Biltmore Blooms. Every season is great at the Biltmore, but the gardens truly shine during this time of year. 

Inn of Biltmore's Toffee Coffee

Toffee Coffee is a signature drink at the Inn at Biltmore. It's great for those chilly, mountain nights that you even find in the spring. 

The Inn at Biltmore's Toffee Coffee

Mix 1 ounce Bailey's Irish Cream, 1 ounce Butterscotch Schnapps and 4 ounces coffee. Serve in a warm mug and top with whipped cream and toffee sprinkles.

  As a throwback, I thought you would enjoy seeing a candid of Will, Bailey the Cat, and me in our condo after we left our wedding reception.  Bailey was the baby before we had a baby in 2005.  Of course, I had to snap a photo with the cat on my wedding day!

We pose with our cat, Bailey, on the day of our wedding in 2002.   Ok. We've aged.

Travel Inspiration for Asheville, N.C. 


5 Awesome Reasons Why the AC Hotel by Marriott in Raleigh's North Hills Area Impresses

I've not traveled much since we bought our new house in Raleigh, adopted a dog, and become a slave to the traditional school schedule where we only have our summer off to explore.

Last weekend, I was finally back on assignment in the off-season.

Top 5 awesome reasons to stay at the AC Hotel Raleigh in North Hills #travel #familytravel #northcarolina

After seven years of owning this blog, Will and I have an unspoken blog agreement. Paid gigs get my priority when it comes to my time. Additional writing perks such as media visits come second to my first job of managing the household and being a parent. Media writing assignments are for when I burn the midnight oil, if and when I have extra time. And let's face it! As an almost 50-year-old menopausal woman with an 8-year-old and a 12-year-old, I'm exhausted most of the time and there is no "burning the midnight oil" in this house these days. The invitation to visit the AC Hotel in Raleigh North Hills came at the perfect time in my life because I needed a hotel stay to renew me and awaken my senses to escape the ordinary in my life. The best part of all is that I only had to drive 15-minutes to experience all of this in my hometown.

The AC Hotel Raleigh is located in bustling North Hills, an area called midtown in Raleigh, N.C.

The AC Hotel by Marriott is hotel brand that I've been curious about but had no personal experience. Last year, Raleigh's North Hills area was the first site in North Carolina to open the AC Raleigh Hotel. Asheville and Chapel Hill followed suit later in the year with two more properties. Charlotte, NC will open the fourth AC Hotel in North Carolina this spring.

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