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Made In The South Award Winners Announced

12th mista awards logo and categories

Garden & Gun’s Annual Made in the South Awards Honor Artisans from Across the Region for the Twelfth Year and Announces 2022 Sponsor Explore Asheville


Garden & Gun magazine announced the winners of its twelfth annual Made in the South Awards (MITSA), celebrating Southern-made products in six categories: Drink, Food, Home, Style, Outdoors, and Crafts. This year’s Overall Winner from the Drinks category, Wonderbird Spirits Artisanal Gin, made in Taylor, Mississippi, will be the recipient of a $10,000 cash prize and a prominent feature in the magazine’s December 2021/January 2022 issue, on newsstands Wednesday, November 16.

overall winner wonderbirds spirits
Overall Winner – Wonderbirds Spirits

David DiBenedetto, Garden & Gun’s senior vice president and editor in chief, made the announcement last night at a celebratory cocktail party on the rooftop of The Loutrel Hotel in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. DiBenedetto and his team were joined by many of the competition’s winners, finalists, and judges.

“We started the Made in the South Awards over a decade ago as a way to recognize the remarkable talent and creativity of artisans, makers, chefs, and designers from across the region, and each year are truly wowed by the entries,” DiBenedetto says. “With our magazine’s fifteen-year anniversary kicking off next year, we are planning a few new surprises to further highlight the skills and stories of the South’s finest makers with our readers.”

Additionally, during the celebratory evening, Garden & Gun announced that for the magazine’s fifteenth anniversary, Explore Asheville will be the official sponsor of the 2022 Made in the South Awards, and the city of Asheville will act as the creative epicenter for next year’s competition. Asheville, North Carolina, makers have garnered nine MITSA awards over the years, including a runner-up prize in this year’s Craft category for Spoon + Hook. In 2020, Opie Way sneakers received recognition as the Overall Winner of the Style category.

“The creative spirit that embodies Asheville, North Carolina, draws visitors from around the world. Asheville’s long legacy of innovation and artistry was born initially out of the isolation of the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains and evolved into a leading creative hub fueled by the makers, artists, craftspeople, artisan food culture and entrepreneurial culture in this magical place,” said Christian Bryant, Garden & Gun vice president and publisher. “We believe the muse of the mountains makes this vibrant city the perfect location to experience what Garden & Gun and Explore Asheville have in store for the 2022 Made in the South Awards next Fall – so make sure to mark your calendar.”

Made in the South Award Recipients By Category

From the Drinks category, this year’s Overall Winner is Wonderbird Spirits Artisanal Gin, made in Taylor, Mississippi. In 2017, friends and business partners Chand Harlow, Rob Forster, and Thomas Alexander hatched Wonderbird Spirits with a vested interest in producing a unique craft distillery brand that represents Mississippi. Together the trio developed a true grain-to-glass gin process, creating the distillate from scratch out of a Jasmine variety of rice grown on a family-owned farm in the Mississippi Delta, the only distillery in North America making gin out of rice-based alcohol. The founders then refined a sake-inspired fermentation process using their in-house cultivated koji, a mold that converts starches to sugars, which yeast then transforms to alcohol. Wonderbird Spirits’ award-winning No. 97 Magnolia Experimental gin was distilled with a combination of fresh Southern magnolia blossoms, juniper, coriander, black peppercorn, and cinchona bark resulting in a unique gin full of subtle and surprising flavors.

Drinks category runners-up are:

    • Filibuster Distillery Single Estate Bourbon Whiskey (Mauertown, VA)
    • Luck Springs Hard Lemonade (Austin, TX)
    • RND Coffee Cold Brew (Roanoke, VA)

The winner of the Food category is Appalachian Beekeeping Collective Black Locust Honey, made in Lewisburg, West Virginia. The West Virginia nonprofit Appalachian Headwaters debuted in 2016 to help restore ecosystems damaged by mountain top removals for coal mining. The organization was advised that it might be useful to bring in pollinators to speed reforestation, which led to discussions with professional beekeepers and the Appalachian Beekeeping Collective was born. The cooperative provides the hives, the bees, and a mentor, all without charge. At the end of the season, beekeepers sell their honey to the nonprofit, which in turn offers it to the public.

Appalachian Beekeeping Collective Black Locust Honey
Appalachian Beekeeping Collective Black Locust Honey – Food Category Winner

Food category runners-up are:

    • Altman Farm and Mill Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix (Evergreen, SC)
    • Lady Edison Country Ham (Chapel Hill, NC)
    • H3irloom Food Group Hot Sauce (Baltimore, MD)

The winner of the Home category is Humphreys Studio Skye Lamp, made in Austin, Texas. John Humphreys, the founder of Humpreys Studio, was inspired by an 1800s South African camp seat when designing the Skye floor lamp. The six-foot-tall lamp is anchored by a concrete base and accented by a half-moon shade made of American canvas. The lamp’s post and cantilevered arm are crafted from honey-colored pecan salvaged from a family mill near the maker’s Austin studio.

Home category runners-up are:

    • Chatham Knives Chef’s Knives (Bay Minette, AL)
    • Emily Daws Textiles Fabric (Johns Island, SC)
    • Hunter Handmade Dog Beds (Southern Pines, NC)

The winner of the Style category is Brackish Jewelry, made in Charleston, South Carolina. Ben Ross and Jeff Plotner co-founded Brackish a decade ago introducing a unique feather-layered bow tie designed and handcrafted in South Carolina. The pair always imagined a broader line of feathered jewelry inspired by the women in their lives. After three years of development, the jewelry line now includes more than fifty day-to-night designs. Like the original bow ties, the collection showcases the brilliant natural colors and patterns of sustainably sourced pheasant, peacock, partridge, quail, and guinea fowl feathers.

Style category runners-up are:

    • Handley Watches Timepieces (Richmond, VA)
    • Campo Collection Pajamas (Miami, FL)
    • Megan Huntz Women’s Wear (Atlanta, GA)

The winner of the Outdoors category is Charles Jobes Decoys’ Dove Decoy, made in Havre de Grace, Maryland. Charles Jobes’ learned the art of the hand-carved dove decoy from his father, a legendary Chesapeake Bay duck decoy carver. Made from western cedar and occasionally white pine, the decoys are painstakingly hand-painted while the beak is made from the tip of a tenpenny nail.

A Brilliant Dove Decoy Outdoor Category Winner
A Brilliant Dove Decoy Outdoor Category Winner

Outdoors category runners-up are:

    • Mauser Fly Fishing Fly Rod (Swansboro, NC)
    • Nicholas Nichols Knives Paring Knife (Leland, NC)
    • Willy Roberts Boats Flat Boat (Cape Canaveral, FL)

The winner of the Crafts category is Appointed Notebooks, made in Washington, D.C. Suann Song, the founder and CEO of Appointed, makes elevated everyday paper goods. Song has always been inspired by the quality of Japanese and Korean stationery and while working as a graphic designer noticed there was a lack of simple, elegant, made-in-the-USA products to choose from. This led her to design and produce her first Appointed Notebook prototype in 2014 featuring a cotton-blend cover, brass binding, and smooth text-weight recycled paper.

Crafts category runners-up are:

    • Darling Lemon Desktop Calendar (Savannah, GA)
    • Jules & Vetiver Unisex Fragrances (Charlotte, NC)
    • Spoon + Hook Wooden Utensils (Asheville, NC)

To learn more about the winners and finalists—and how to purchase their products—pick up a copy of the December 2021/January 2022 issue of Garden & Gun, or visit https://gardenandgun.com/madeinthesouth2021

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