Hardscoop Distillery: Where Booze and Ice Cream Come Together

It’s one thing to pour booze over your ice cream, but what if you could eliminate a step and have booze in your ice cream? Thanks to Hardscoop Distillery, a new company based in Charleston, South Carolina, you can.

Founded by Jason Kirby, Chris Ledbetter, and Rachel Solomon, Hardscoop Distillery is the country’s only licensed distillery that makes spirited ice cream.

A federally-licensed distillery that makes boozy ice cream. There aren’t many words that could be added to that sentence to make it sound any better than it already does. (“Free Money” and “Porsche” come to mind, but let’s be real, it doesn’t get much better than alco-ice cream.)

Coming in at 8 percent ABV, each pint of Hardscoop is made from a mix of quality ice cream — Kirby says they use 14 percent butter fat — that is made from scratch in-house and grain neutral spirits.

“We make a premium product and our approach has always been that we want the customer to taste the richness of the ice cream above anything else,” Kirby says.

That means dialing the grain neutral spirit back from 190 proof (they don’t currently distill their own spirit) to 80 proof. This softens to alcohol flavors and allows the taste of the ice cream to shine through.

“We both enjoy the liquor taste in a cocktail or even poured ice cream, but we wanted mass appeal for a variety of palates,” Kirby adds.

The development process for these products took over a year and upwards of 350 test batches. (Boy, would we have loved to be the R&D team for those tests).

“We’d identify which piece we wanted to work on — proof or a specific flavor, for example — then approach those on an individual basis in a scientific manner. We worked one at a time in order to dial in each part right,” Kirby says.

In terms of being a licensed distillery, the choice, according to Kirby came down to the future.

“A scoop shop or a bar scenario are very restricted about where they can go, who they sell to, and when. It took a lot longer to get there, but we think, in time, it’ll be better for us and will allow us to expand,” Kirby says. It also gives them the ability to eventually make their own spirits to use in the ice cream.

For now, HardScoop has three core flavors — classics that are sure to appeal to just about everyone: vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. For the fall, they released a pumpkin pie flavor that will be available through Thanksgiving. Kirby says they also plan to experiment with other alcohols, but, for now, they are happy using the grain neutral spirit, as it really lets the other flavors of the product shine through.

There is one drawback to Hardscoop, sadly: it is currently only available in South Carolina. Next time you’re looking at taking a trip, you’re going to want to think about Greenville or Charleston as destinations so that you can try the sweet, beautiful, boozy dessert that is Hardscoop Ice Cream.