Get an inside look at the Charlotte area’s newest rum distillery in Mount Holly

Muddy River Distillery, a go-to spot for Carolina rum and versatile flavors, will open in the historic Mount Holly Cotton Mill on Saturday, June 22, after two years of refurbishing the late 19th century building.

Muddy River Distillery will operate out of the oldest mill still standing in Gaston County, which remained in use “in one form or another” up until its sale to owners Caroline and Robbie Delaney.

“Being able to bring Carolina’s oldest rum into the oldest mill in the area feels a bit like destiny. When we first saw the building, we knew that we would build something truly Carolinian for the region to come and enjoy, that we could all be proud to call our own,” Robbie Delaney said.

Muddy River’s offerings

Muddy River Distillery’s Carolina rum selection — available at North Carolina’s ABC stores, South Carolina package stores and the Mount Holly Mill Distillery — features silver, spiced, coffee, basil, coconut and aged Queen Charlotte Rum varieties.

Since Muddy River’s product debut in 2012, these rums have become a go-to among local mixologists for their quality and versatility.

And, in the new space, Muddy River Distillery will have seasonal cocktails, regularly programmed cocktail classes featuring its products and limited releases developed on site.

Muddy River Distillery opens Saturday, June 22 in Mount Holly.
Muddy River Distillery opens Saturday, June 22 in Mount Holly.

On its drink menu, you can expect a variety of tiki drinks:

  • The Painkiller is my personal favorite. But, I’m a little biased since I absolutely love anything pineapple flavored. This super sweet drink — which I might add had two pineapple leaves sticking out of it — is a four-year rum drink made with coconut rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, coconut cream and grated nutmeg.

  • In the Cucumber Aku Aku, expect a basil rum with peach schnapps, lime juice, simple syrup, muddled pineapple, cucumber and basil.

  • The Mai Tai is a sweet yet bitter silver rum drink that includes one-year rum, orange curaçao, lime juice and a dark rum float.

  • Shoulda Been a Pirate is a Navy-strength rum and coffee rum drink with banana liqueur, cold brew coffee and vanilla ginger simple syrup.

  • The Smoked Coffee Old Fashioned is made with coffee rum, four-year rum, Demerara simple syrup, bitters and maplewood smoke.

Muddy River Distillery’s Painkiller includes a pineapple leaf garnish.
Muddy River Distillery’s Painkiller includes a pineapple leaf garnish.

Embracing the Mount Holly community

Since opening as the first legal rum distillery in North Carolina, Muddy River was previously located on River Drive in Belmont. But after experiencing significant growth, the distillery saw it necessary to expand.

Finally calling the historic Cotton Mill home to the distillery was the end of a long road of property hunting for the Delaneys, as they were often outbid by developers in the process,

“I’d just keep raising and raising my budget until one day this mill came on the market and my old boss, who I used to do construction with, was like, ‘Hey, you should just make it happen.’ And so I went back to doing rehabilitation projects by buying this mill and spending way more money than I ever wanted to spend,” Robbie Delaney told CharlotteFive.

Muddy River Distillery is located at 250 N Main St. in Mount Holly.
Muddy River Distillery is located at 250 N Main St. in Mount Holly.

After acquiring the property in 2022, the Delaneys dug into the remodeling process.

“We lifted the building by ourselves. The head distiller here, he personally Bobcatted about half of the gravel that’s in the floor, which is 200 dump trucks and of gravel to backfill the first floor,” Robbie Delaney said.

Muddy River Distillery serves a variety of cocktails crafted with the rum it makes on site.
Muddy River Distillery serves a variety of cocktails crafted with the rum it makes on site.

“Our guys have done distillation and also will come in here and work and build stuff and lay wooden floors — all types of things. So we’ve been very lucky, we have an awesome team,” Caroline Delaney said.

Highlighting the tight-knit community of Mount Holly, neighbor Rafael Galan walked onto the site and volunteered to help, playing a crucial role in the construction process.

“Like, I walked over here, neighbor,” Rafael Galan said.

“So I buy the place and I’m like, I don’t know what I’m gonna do with it. There’s no contractors anywhere,” Robbie Delaney said. “And, Rafael’s like, ‘Oh, I do some carpentry sometimes.’ And, next thing you know we’re building windows in this workshop.”

A look inside Muddy River Distillery.
A look inside Muddy River Distillery.

Robbie Delaney said, “People have always come to find us” over the last decade. Now, he’s embracing a new and expanded venue where patrons can “enjoy themselves right here, and the local Mount Holly crowd can also be proud of us.”

“It’s been a great community, and I think everyone’s really excited to see this building back to life. So many people have had great memories as kids like running around this building or fishing, and they’ve seen it growing up,” Caroline Delaney said.

The distillery also has plans for larger events, taking advantage of its 5-acre parcel adjacent to Dutchman’s Creek.

The patio at Muddy River Distillery.
The patio at Muddy River Distillery.

“I’ve got 800 feet of twinkly lights back there, we’re gonna do the mystical forest off to the side with the concert in the middle. And then we have a whole nother event space off to the north end. It’s gonna be crazy. But we’ll do all the concerts, festivals and markets,” Robbie Delaney said.

“On five acres, 20 minutes outside of Charlotte, there’s no end to what we can do.”

Muddy River Distillery

Location: 250 N Main St., Mt Holly, NC 28120


Hours: Wednesday to Thursday 4 p.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, from 2 p.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday, from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Sunday, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (or until).

Instagram: @muddyriverdistillery