Alumni News

Most of the time, a side gig is a chance to pursue an interest outside your full-time job. That was the case when Russell Nance, L’97, a tax attorney and partner at Mayer Brown in New York, joined up with Alex Toomy and Chris Sarpy to open Ragged Branch, a bourbon distillery outside Charlottesville, Virginia.

“It’s also fun to be involved with,” Nance said. “It’s fun to envision where it might go.”

Still, sometimes the two worlds overlap, like the day Nance got a call that six ABC officers were on their way to the distillery. Their 500-gallon copper still had just been delivered. “We were under the impression that we could have the still; we just couldn’t have it running,” Nance said. “Evidently, that was not correct.”

Nance and his partners worked to submit the necessary legal paperwork that afternoon. Felony charges were averted.

With that hurdle cleared, Nance is back to managing the distillery’s brand, finding distributors — and sipping on bourbon while looking out on the central Virginia mountains.