When the S.D. Strong Distilling in Parkville, Missouri expanded its cave space, owner and head distiller Steve Strong decided to build a stage inside their barrel room. Strong, a former musician himself, felt a concert series in a cave paired perfectly with his award-winning spirits.
“I was playing in this rockabilly band and the guy that was playing bass, him and his cousin were making moonshine in his cousin’s garage. That’s what got me interested,” Strong told Amplify. “I built a still on top of Budweiser keg and I started messing with mash recipes. I’ve always been interested in music and guitars and playing in bands. Once we had the space, I knew we had to do this.”
Last year, the distillery decided to expand operations in the cave that is home to other businesses as well.
“I was tripping over myself and I needed more of a barrel room to house all of our whiskey,” Strong explained. “It worked out great because what we do in the barrel room now is we built a stage area. About once a quarter we do shows and we do listening room type of environment.”
S.D. Strong Distilling is located 65 ft underground in a cave and equipped with a tasting room and the expanded barrel room.
“It is really cool to watch a concert in a cave. The acoustics are amazing. We have reverb for days,” Strong told Amplify. “Every artist that we have had done there says ‘I can’t believe this. This is so cool.'”
The barrel room comfortably seats about 200 people for intimate shows. Spirit lovers have been presented with artists from around the country including Melodime, The Roosevelts, and the Nashville-native Paul Childers who Strong says “plays like Stevie Ray Vaughan.”
The distillery’s evening shows tend to be more acoustic, but Strong said they have also featured electric guitars, amplified bass, and their semi-permanent grand piano.
“The cave that we are in is under (Park University.) The university is one of the premier programs for piano players in the United States,” Strong said. “They had an old Steinway that they weren’t using in their storage room. It is a Grand Model B. We basically have it on permanent loan in our distillery.”
Their next concert will be held on Feb. 10 with a performance from Los Angeles duo Freddy and Francine who Strong connected with after seeing their set at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The duo will be followed by another scheduled show in April.
In addition to their upcoming shows, S.D. Strong is also releasing their first bourbon. Aged for three years in the cave, the Big Boom Bourbon is named for the daily dynamite blasts heard below their facility.
Strong said “At around 5:11 pm every night there are two or three dynamite blasts that go off and you can feel it, the cave kind of rumbles.”
Big Boom Bourbon along with their Pillar 136 Gin that won gold at the Washington Cup Spirits Competition twice and other spirits can be found at their cave location, online, and through distributors in five other states (Texas, Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas). For more information on upcoming shows, check out S.D. Strong’s Eventbrite page.