He may have actually a successful present on the discovery Channel, however Manes’ true passions are his little shop and the city of Newport

I satisfy Eric Manes inside Fruit seasoned Alley, his wife’s apparel boutique in the sleepy Smoky mountain town of Newport, Tennessee. Much better known as “Digger” from the discovery Channel docu-series Moonshiners, Manes is put on overalls v the top switch on each side undone, and doesn’t look favor someone of fact TV fame. However then again, Manes doesn’t precisely line up v my expectation that a real-life, forest moonshiner either—someone who has spent his life illegal making the type of liquor it is bottled up in unlabeled mason jars. He’s polite and relatively clean cut, through a short, gray beard and also glasses, and a thick southern accent. At 56 year old, that reminds me a little of my dad.

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Manes walks me with his store following door, The back Alley Grainery, wherein he, ironically, sells brewing and winemaking supplies. Upstairs is a lounge that he call his Dude Den. The an are is bigger 보다 my apartment and also mostly empty except for a bar, a pool table, and a small seating area. The minimal decorations encompass a taxidermy white bird and also a snapshot of a donkey. Manes props one of those unlabeled jars of brown liquor top top the bar and offers me a sip. Because that himself, he cracks open up a have the right to of mountain Dew.

I oblige and, to mine surprise, it’s in reality pretty good. “I don’t make shitty liquor,” Manes says.

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The ago Alley Grainery opened in 2018. | photo courtesy of Digger Manes

Manes and also his wife took a large risk to kickstart a downtown revitalization v their businesses, but slowly, others room following. The street looks pretty empty, but he says Newport now has actually an ice cream parlor, a hair salon, a firearm store, and a food van that’s feather to open up a brick-and-mortar.

“Being the town undertaker’s son, mine parents operated every day and I would pertained to work through my dad. I remained in every nook and also cranny of this downtown area and also it’s residence to me,” that says. “I could walk right into every store and name everyone who functioned there and I miss out on that. We’ve become so disconnected from our communities and also people don’t take time to be kind and also speak to every other and also have little conversations like, ‘Did you fish this week?’ I’d love to check out it get earlier to that.”