Opened in 2017, Ghost Coast Distillery is downtown Savannah’s first distillery since Prohibition. Tours will run every hour, on the hour Monday-Wednesday 12-6pm, and Thursday-Saturday 10-6pm. Owners Chris Sywassink and Rob Ingersoll selected their building in the burgeoning West Side of downtown Savannah to help breathe new life into the building at 641 Indian Street, noted as part of the City of Savannah’s West Downtown Urban Redevelopment Plan. Follow their Facebook page for the latest updates and information.
Over 13 million people flock to Savannah’s cobblestoned streets each year and now they can become immersed in the nearly three centuries of revelry that have taken place in this beautiful Southern gem at Ghost Coast Distillery. A fully immersive, 360 degree experience transforms the space into a moving history of Savannah, transporting guests through Savannah’s past with images canvassed on the four walls and display screens unlike any other historic tour available in the Hostess City.
This unique experience focuses of the city’s nearly 300-year history, which includes several bouts of Prohibition. The first Prohibition was decreed by Savannah’s founder, General Oglethorpe, and lasted between 1733 and 1755, while the second prohibition stemmed from the nationwide ban that started in 1920 and ended in 1933. In between—and often during— Savannahians were known to enjoy their spirits, with many important historic moments tied to alcohol:
- The first reading of the Declaration of Independence in Georgia happened at the famous Revolutionary haunt, Tondee’s Tavern.
- The establishment of one of the oldest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country, in part because many Irish settlers had come to settle in Savannah and taught everyone proper distilling methods after the British blockaded access to alcohol during the American Revolution.
- The Civil War caused strict regulations on the use of corn and wheat, so many locals turned to moonshining between 1861-1900.
- Savannah attempted to secede from Georgia in 1907 due to the Volstead Act, or Georgia’s prohibition, which was enacted statewide a full 11 years before the nationwide ban on alcohol.
These and many other moments in Savannah’s storied history reflect the revelrous spirit of those who have called the city home and fought for it to stay independent and fun-loving. Freedom, more than just alcohol, was at the crux of many of these rebellions, though John Berendt’s famous comparison of Georgia cities in 1994 has always rang true:
“If you go to Atlanta, the first question people as you is, ‘What’s your business?’ In Macon they ask, ‘Where do you go to church?’ In Augusta they ask your grandmother’s maiden name. But in Savannah the first question people ask you is ‘What would you like to drink?’
“We are proud to be part of the entangled history between Savannah and spirits as the first distillery since before Savannah’s second prohibition,” says co-owner Chris Sywassink. Partner Rob Ingersoll adds, “It’s pretty amazing to become part of the story and to think that people could be talking about the impact of our distillery on Savannah or noteworthy events that could take place here hundreds of years from now. Who knows?!?”
Be sure to visit Ghost Coast Distillery, where you will learn about Savannah’s rich history with drink and revelry. While here you’ll have the chance to walk through our aging room, currently filled with over 100 barrels of the good stuff. Next stop is the distillation facility, offering a behind the scenes look at how our products are crafted. For more information or to book a tour, visit our tours page.