TODAY

TODAY   |  May 01, 2014

Mom of ailing boys starts moonshine business

Troy and Charlie Ball have two sons with a rare undiagnosed metabolic disease. They sought refuge in the mountains of North Carolina to find a climate kinder to the boys’ medical condition, and wound up launching a successful moonshine business.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> story behind one family's thriving business. it all started because of two young boys and their battle with a rare disorder. nbc's harry smith has this story.

>> great to be here. get to meet a lot of interesting people as i wander around the country. some surprise me, some inspire me. troy ball did both, and then some.

>> reporter: the ball family sets out for an afternoon stroll in asheville, north carolina . troy and her husband, charlie, moved here from texas ten years ago to save the lives of their oldest boys, marshall and colton. in texas their frail constitutions were constantly compromised by the heavy pollen.

>> marshall was rushed to a hospital and stopped breathing in an ambulance the year before we moved here and that was kind of the turning point for us.

>> this is as healthy as they've ever been.

>> reporter: life in the cool, clean air of the appalachians has agreed with this family, including their youngest, luke. it's also provided a unique business opportunity .

>> doesn't it smell good?

>> it is like grits.

>> it is exactly grits. right.

>> reporter: troy ball makes moon shine . you heard that right -- corn liquor .

>> you can put your finger right in there and smell it.

>> it smells like whiskey!

>> that's hard.

>> this is the good stuff.

>> that's the good stuff.

>> reporter: troy got idea of making moon shine because when they first arrived in asheville, she'd get mason jars full of the stuff as house warming presents. soon troy was heading back into the hollers to find out for herself how it was done.

>> came home one day and with the pressure cooker and said to my husband i need you to help me convert this to a still. and he said, you're nuts! i'm not going to do that.

>> reporter: that little pressure cooker turned into this, a thriving distillery that makes the real mountain dew .

>> just take a little sip. there you go.

>> wow.

>> reporter: the key ingredient to troy's whiskey -- crooked creek corn. grown for generations by farmer john mcintyre 's family.

>> this is not genetically modified, of course. we're proud to say that.

>> this is old-school corn.

>> reporter: call it moonshine for the masses. once you take a first sip, you're kind of prone to want to take a second.

>> reporter: plenty of people here thought she might be crazy but troy believed if she could overcome the myriad obstacles to keeping her sons healthy she could probably do almost anything. thus, on every label it says, "troy and sons."

>> i pent 24 hours a day for about 18 years taking care of the boys. it is my job to keep them alive and so when it came time to finally have a way to develop a business, this is my way of honoring them and making a statement about our lives.

>> reporter: a statement that could double as a recipe that life, or even moonshine, is pretty much what you make of it.

>> troy and charlie, some of the most impressive people i have ever, ever met.

>> you know what i'm impressed by? you were still standing by the end of that piece when you had two shots of that moonshine.

>> but you didn't see the tape. for some distant future we brought one of these in case people on the staff want to figure out --

>> don't encourage that behavior. i'll take that for this fall.

>> there you go.

>> harry, thank you very much. what a great story.