Meet the People
Behind Hilton Head Distillery
Joe Fenten is the Founder and President of Hilton Head Distillery. He graduated from Clemson University with a BS in Electrical Engineering and eventually left engineering to pursue his passion for craft spirits. He’s spent the past decade designing and building distilleries and developing spirits brands.
Today, when he’s not cranking out a strategic battle plan or rallying the team, he loves spending time with his family, traveling to new places, pumping iron, and throwing down on ethnic food.
Musical genre most likely to be playing in your car or earbuds?
“EDM for sure”
Matt Manning is the Director of Operations at Hilton Head Distillery. He comes to us from Greenville, SC, where he spent the last 2 years working with Dark Corner Distillery, handling all aspects of Operations, from retail and tasting room management to product development.
Matt takes much interest in craft cocktails, good food, and the food and beverage industry as a whole. He’s also an avid traveler excited about the beautiful weather and amazing places to visit in and around South Carolina.
What’s your dream job?
“Beerguy at the stadium”
We are pleased to introduce Whitney Meriwether, our new Head Distiller & Production Manager. Whitney is new to Hilton Head, just moving from Seattle where he spent 10+ years on the west coast working with multiple craft distilleries, handling all aspects of spirits production, from small-batch craft rums to planning long-term aged whiskey investments.
Whitney takes much interest in craft cocktails, good food, and the food & beverage industry as a whole. He’s also an avid fisherman and can’t wait to see what the Atlantic Ocean and waterways of South Carolina have to offer.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
“I always said I wanted to be a mad scientist…I got so many eye rolls.”
My name is Foxy Roxy and I’m the Boss’s Boss. I grew up in Lake Lure, NC near where Dirty Dancing was filmed. Most of my education is from working with small businesses starting with my family’s ice cream store in Chimney Rock back in 96’. Later I spent 4 years managing cake production for a family-owned German bakery. For the past decade, I’ve helped design and build distillery tasting rooms and guest experiences. I excel at making people feel at home, I can encourage anyone to try anything, I make a mockery of playing sports, and my off-color jokes are bound to crack a smile.
I’m very interested in home decor and decorating in general, although my husband has started limiting my visits to Home Goods and Marshalls. When I’m not doing my boss’s job or wrangling my 2 lovely (and rowdy) kids, I love to cook at home and eat foods from around the world. And yes, everything is better with a cocktail and dessert. I enjoy working out (no running) and trying to keep up with my husband. My family is everything to me and our best moments are had when we’re traveling together. I never dreamed of success, I worked for it.
What’s your dream job?
“To own a small pastry bakery and cafe in a quaint Italian village overlooking the mountains.”
Kate Goodall is the Social Media Manager at Hilton Head Distillery. Originally from Texas, Kate graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in Tourism Management. She has lived on Hilton Head Island, for the last six years, supervising front desk operations at various resorts. She has a passion for the hospitality and tourism industry which is undeniable. She has stories to tell, and she loves helping guests create their own.
Kate is passionate about traveling, cooking, photography, and spending time with friends and family. In her spare time, she loves to take photos and edit them and sometimes she’ll randomly burst out in song (though that’s mostly when people can’t hear her). Kate likes to take on new challenges because nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy.
What’s your favorite movie?
“Hands down, Top Gun”
Jesse Moody is the Assistant Distiller at Hilton Head Distillery. Born in Beaufort and raised in Hampton, South Carolina, Jesse is a native of the Lowcountry. After serving with the Marine’s most decorated infantry battalion 2/5 in Camp Pendleton, CA, Jesse graduated from USCB with a degree in Hospitality Management. He started with home-brewing, fell in love with the process, and wanted to broaden his horizons.
Jesse enjoys brewing, sports, and new adventures with his family—a son, Jonah (4), and his wife Ashley who he has been with for 11 years. Jesse’s dream is to one day open his own food and beverage location, with his own alcohol and brand.
What’s your superpower?
“I can shoot the hair off the back of a flea that’s biting a tick’s ass…and neither will know what happened.”
Amanda Allen is one of our beloved bartenders here at Hilton Head Distillery. Originally from Massachusetts with 10 years of restaurant and bar experience, Amanda has a BA from Purdue University in Political Science and History.
Amanda enjoys cooking and gardening. Her husband is a vegetarian, so making great meals for him that are tasty and satisfying is important to her. Amanda and her husband also love to travel and explore places they have never been. If those places have a concert they want to see or a casino in town, even better!
musical genre Most likely to be playing in your car or earbuds?
“Anything I can dance to, but there’s usually a lot of 90s west coast rap!”
Diane Carter is a Tour Guide for Hilton Head Distillery. Born on Long Island, Diane has spent most of her adult life in Kentucky where she received a BA in Communications from The University of Louisville. Diane had an extensive career in Television Production, but happily gave it up to raise her two unique and zany boys. Somewhere along the way, she re-discovered her passion for Theatre and singing, so you might just find her on the stage somewhere or part of a choir on her off time.
Diane has a passion for connecting with people and sharing stories and adventures. Her hobbies include theatre, music and avoiding housework as much as possible. Her retired husband can assume those responsibilities!! There is a quote from a Kurt Vonnegut poem which hits home for her where Vonnegut is talking about something he has. “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”
What’s something interesting most people don’t know about you?
“I love playing video games and my husband and I have daily Mario Kart tournaments.”
Born in Chicago, Bobby flunked out of Wassamotta U in MN where he majored in car mechanics with a sidetrack in the theatre arts. Soon thereafter he hitchhiked to Oregon and ended up joining a carnival where he worked the dime toss game & traveled as far south as Chula Vista, CA. Inspired by the song Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (an actor’s life for me), Bobby returned to Chicago in pursuance of an acting career where he spent 5 years in the theatre community. Wanting to be a movie star, Bobby rolled out to Hollywood and took a job as a doorman while taking auditions during the day. During the 70’s & 80’s Bobby worked in several films and an occasional guest appearance on TV shows. He also lived in Manhattan, central New Jersey, and worked on films in France, Ireland & Israel before working his way up to GM of a limousine service in Los Angeles and ultimately leaving all that behind to finally settle down in Bluffton, SC with his wife, where he is living the dream working at the Hilton Head Distillery…finally comfortable in his own skin working with wonderful hard-working, creative, loving people and loving the life in low country SC!
Bobby loves to play golf, hang with the guys in the hood sipping on spirits, read, & listen to loud music from classical to head-banging rock and in-between. Most important is the continued love & support he receives from his loving wife, children & grandchildren.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
“A standup comic. Mostly inspired by Jackie Mason, Shecky Green & the Three Stooges.”
Derek James Allen is our resident Rumslinger. He was born and raised in Buffalo, NY and I moved to South Carolina from Boston, MA with his wife Amanda. Derek went to school for a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree where he majored in sculpture and minored in art history. He has thirty plus years experience in retail and retail management and worked twenty six of those years for one of Forbes’ top three companies to work for in the US.
What’s your dream job?
“My dream job is where I get to make people happy and see my wife’s beautiful face every day…so I guess I have finally found it in Hilton Head Distillery.”