Yianni Barakos from Mason Dixon Distillery

“It is my hope that my legacy will be that I was a person who spent the best years of his life pushing everyone around him to be the best possible versions of themselves and that I was successful at it.”

- Yianni Barakos (pictured on the right)

Mason Dixon Distillery: Daring To Define Quality

mason dixon distillery

Q&A with Yianni Barakos


Give us a brief background of who you are for those that don't know.

I am the owner, head distiller of Mason Dixon Distillery.


How long have you served people in the area?

Since July 1, 2016.


How did you go about this career path?

I had an entirely different career path that in my head eventfully lead to small distillery with one or two employees. But God, life, whatever higher power you subscribe to, apparently didn't like my timeline and decided to move it up a little. 


Describe one or two moments in your life that shaped who you are today.

The first big "fork in the road" came at age 11 when I built my first still and almost burnt my parents house down. Typically an event like this would have lead to a banning of set activity that almost burnt the house down. Instead, I was given an electric hot plate and told to "keep it outside."

The second big event came in 2012. I was involved in a car accident that had essentially left me bedridden for over two years. I was lead to believe I would never work again. Fortunately, at some point I decided to gather what little strength and will I had left and try just once more to find a doctor that thought differently than the rest. Thankfully, that effort was rewarded and I found a doctor that was able to help me. He told me that he could get me a life back, but it would not be the life I once knew. There would be pain and physical limitation that would most likely follow me for the rest of my life. He advised that if my goal truly was to find a way to be productive once again, that I find a way to work around my pain and limitations. My idea of a "work around" was to have the flexibility that comes with being a small business owner. The rest as they say, is history.

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty; --that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

John Keats

(Yianni's Favorite Quote)


What do you enjoy most about being a business owner?

Providing opportunity for my employees and being of service to our community.


Regarding your core products and services, what can you tell us about it? Why should we care?

Our distilled spirits: Entirely made from scratch. Our raw grains all come from within 5 miles of the distillery, most of which we grow on GNMP. Our malted grains all come from in state. We submitted to two of the toughest international spirits competitions when we were about a year old and walked away with a pile of medals, including a gold for our vodka, and we've gotten even better since then.

Food/Kitchen: Our chef cooks some of the most delicious takes on comfort food I have ever had. Our specials constantly change, so there is always something new. 

Our facility: We restored an old furniture factory that was a major employer in this county during its peak in the early 1900's. We kept a ton of the old and brought in a little bit of new. There is now ONE TV in the dining room but it doesn't play television stations or movies, we use it to show you our specials so you can get an even better idea of what you are ordering than a menu alone can provide. The setup is beer hall meets diner counter. On busy nights the gentle boisterous roar of conversation fills the air. No television, no wifi, you are supposed to slow down and have a social experience that we top off with food and drink.

Why you should care: We are an award winning distillery, our kitchen turns out some of the most tasty creative dishes you can find anywhere, and we make all of those things with as many local ingredients as we can. Our spirits are top shelf, our menu has something for just about everyone , we buy local and hire local. Money spent here stays here.


What types of local events do you enjoy the most?

This is probably a sad answer, that I generally work during the times local events are held. But, I have been able to attend a handful of parades and a handful of other small events in the time that I have been here. My favorite part of all the events is how the community shows up and participates. 


Favorite book and favorite quote. Go!

Favorite book(s): Haven't carved out any time to do any reading lately, but I have yet to ever read anything by Seth Godin that I didn't gain some sort of knowledge from.

Favorite quote: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty; --that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." - John Keats

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What's your biggest challenge in your business right now? What's a close second?

Personally: acknowledging when I am too tired to still be productive. Literally knowing when to call it a day.

Business: I am working on building out an online store. I am not a web designer. It is incredibly trying, but I believe it will be a very good thing for Mason Dixon Distillery once it is up and running.


What's really killing it for you as a marketing channel today?

Organic reach on different social media platforms come and go, but word of mouth (albeit slow sometimes), still trumps all.


What is your biggest revenue driver?

The restaurant.


Do you have any sales, offers or freebies for our readers that you want to promote?

All merchandise, bottles, and box-tails are going to be significantly discounted for the weekend of Black Friday 2019. If you have shopping to do for your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, random person you met two days ago that you really like, or anyone of legal drinking age, we are always your one stop shop. But that will be doubly true that weekend.


Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

It is my hope that my legacy will be that I was a person who spent the best years of his life pushing everyone around him to be the best possible versions of themselves and that I was successful at it. It is my belief that as I work towards accomplishing this legacy, that I will have built a business that long out lives me and that this business will remain of service to the community. 

Contact Mason Dixon Distillery