Connect
To Top

Daily Inspiration: Meet Mary Catherine Matheny

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Catherine Matheny.

Hi Mary, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
Hello from Mary Catherine and Ryan, owners of Oldknow Bev Co., newlyweds in June, designers, drink makers, and entrepreneurs. In 2019, we had a vision of creating a beautifully light drink. A cocktail flavor profile, but in a seltzer format.

Oldknow Bev Co was born many years before as a way to drink our farmer friend’s leftover market produce. We started small, making sodas and cocktails in a tricycle bar cart with a draft. We pedaled our product at local venues and parties but knew we needed to find a way to get to more people.

During that time we saw the market turn towards lighter and healthier ways of drinking and we were ready to see the change. However, with all the malt seltzers being made, we knew there was a better way.

In 2020, we bought the property in Rabun Gap, Georgia to start our small, family-owned, operated, and funded distillery. The pandemic hit and we quarantined ourselves in the mountains slowly getting the distillery up and running. In early 2022 we launched our first set of seltzers to the market, the first spirit-based seltzers made in Georgia.

Introducing Oldknow Bev Co., offering two lines of spirited seltzers made from Georgia mountain mineral water and real spirits.

Obscura: cult spirits over sparkling mountain mineral water, plain and simple. Our premier offering, Verte Absinthe, asks people to drink something unexpected, different, and new. We are the first absinthe in a can, offering an approachable way to try and enjoy this unique herbal spirit.

Botanico: the usual darling spirits dressed up with real botanicals and our crisp mountain water. We offer a Gin Seltzer featuring cucumber-distilled gin infused with a little-known herb, mountain mint, grown at the distillery. And a Vodka Seltzer infused with oolong tea and notes of grapefruit and lychee.

5% abv, no preservatives or chemicals in our process, and combined with our virgin mountain mineral water, you will find tomorrow will be as excellent as today.

Cheers!

Mary Catherine Matheny and Ryan Wood.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
As a small, family-owned business we are trying our best to do it all ourselves until the business can stand firmly on its own two feet. We play many of the roles ourselves all while juggling our design work that keeps our family fed. From formula creation and batching to sales, events, and social media. We are behind it all.

One of the greatest struggles we’ve encountered as a distillery making a product that is 5% abv is the laws and regulations around being a distillery. The rules are made to keep the big boys in check and protect mom-and-pop liquor stores, but what about the mom-and-pop distilleries? We’ve seen the laws lax up around breweries and wineries, especially around the pandemic, allowing for direct-to-consumer sales and self-distribution.

In tandem with this, Georgia only allows the spirit to be sold in liquor stores, not convenience stores or groceries, despite the alcohol content. This means you can find beer and wine up to 18+% abv in a grocery but not our 5% seltzer. We use all the same equipment and a similar, if not more simple, process as breweries, but because we are handling high-proof spirit, we have a tougher set of rules to abide by.

Being a small fish in a big pond is another hurdle. From finding a distributor to selling ourselves to liquor stores and bars, we’ve run across more roadblocks than we ever could have imagined. A great example is a restaurant that bought our product but had no way of putting us on a menu.

They wouldn’t put us on the printed draft menu, because we weren’t draft, they don’t reprint their regular menus so no luck there. We were left puzzled as to how to help them sell our product without their help in letting customers know it’s available.

These are all things we signed up for, but nonetheless, we’re constantly laughing at the unimagined hurdles we continue to discover in this process. We like to say, if it were easy, everyone would do it! As designers and entrepreneurs, we’ve learned that anything you tackle is about problem-solving.

You have to be ready for everything to go wrong and problem solve your way to a new and better way forward.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
In tandem with our distillery, we run our own design studio, Wood and Wood Design.

We specialize in branding work for small businesses doing cool things, it’s where our hearts lie. And while we love bringing other people’s dreams to life, we were really excited to be able to create the brand for our own dream.

It was really fun being our own client. No one to tell us no, but ourselves. Thus born a can with naked women on it. That never would have made it through the corporate ladder.

Find our design work here: www.woodandwooddesign.com and @thehouseofwoodandwood.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Nope, we think you nailed it.

But just in case, we will reiterate here — Oldknow is one of a kind. Real people making a real product. Real mountain water, real botanicals, real spirits. For a better today and a better tomorrow morning!

Oh and also, we are proud to be majority woman-owned!

Pricing:

  • Botanico 4pk : $11.99 – 12.99
  • Obscura 4pk : $18.99
  • Singles $4.99

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Jose Pereiro @thecocktailshaker_ and Zach Barron @zachbarron.co

Suggest a Story: VoyageSavannah is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Local Stories