Springfield resident competes on ‘Master Distiller,’ plans to open distillery

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

Springfield resident Matt Brown recently competed on Season 4 of Discovery’s “Moonshiners: Master Distiller” and went head-to-head with fellow combat veterans.

“Overall, it was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had,” Brown said. “I think the thing that I liked most about it is that I was with two other veterans, and it wasn’t even like a competition at all. We all instantly became best friends.”

Brown, an Urbana native and U.S. Army veteran, was featured in the Jan. 25 episode titled “Armed Forces Face Off.” He competed against Justin Rivera of Hawaii and Joe Jackson of Pennsylvania. The show was filmed in October 2022.

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

He came out on top during the first challenge, which required making a signature spirit from home. Brown said he stuck with the basics and made a corn liquor.

“The reason my recipe is going to be a winner is I keep it simple,” said Brown in the episode. “I see too many people try to fancy everything up. In reality, everybody just likes corn liquor.”

In the next challenge, Brown infused strawberry and vanilla into his base spirit to create a strawberry corn spirit. This round sent Jackson home.

The final challenge was a flavor competition. Brown made a strawberry lemonade spirit, and Rivera made a pineapple sipping cream. Rivera triumphed, winning the title “Master Distiller.”

Brown admitted he was “outwitted.”

“It was me and him in the last round, and he looked over and saw what I was doing,” Brown said. “He was from the intelligence committee in the military and that means a couple of things: No 1. He is super intelligent. No. 2. He has a back up plan for a back up plan.”

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

“I couldn’t be happier for Justin,” Brown added. “Hopefully they call me back so I can bring the title back to Springfield one more time.”

In 2021, Shawn Rigsby of Springfield appeared on the show and won bragging rights as “Master Distiller.”

Brown noted he has teamed up with Rigsby and Urbana resident Jon Umstead to open a distillery called Champagne Shine Company. He said they are currently looking for a location and hope to have it up and running this year. They plan to have traditional corn liquor, multi-grain liquor and a couple of flavored liquors to start off, Brown explained.

This news outlet spoke with Brown in October 2020 when he had plans to open a distillery in Urbana. Brown said he was never able to get it going due to the price of materials during COVID.

He said after filming the show he wants to find a way to give back to veterans.

“One of the things that I took away from this is I really want to give back to the soldiers that are going through what myself, Joe and Justin went through when we tried to come back into the civilian world,” Brown said. “I feel now that this happened for a reason, and I really want to take everything that I get and pay it forward to the veterans.”

To watch the episode, visit www.discovery.com/shows/moonshiners-master-distiller/episodes/armed-forces-face-off.

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