Get to Know a Local: Buddy Byrum of Buffalo City Distillery

By Molly Harrison | Monday, July 8, 2024

All across the Outer Banks are people doing their best to make a living while still finding time to enjoy this wonderful place they call home. In this edition of Get to Know a Local, you’ll meet one of them, Buddy Byrum, owner, CEO (“chief everything officer”) and master distiller at Buffalo City Distillery in Point Harbor.

After a career in the corporate world, Buddy and his wife, Sharon Byrum, decided to become business owners. At first they were not sure what that business would be. They had a second home in Duck, where they hoped to one day retire, and they also had a family farm in Fairfield, a small Hyde County community on the north shore of Lake Mattamuskeet.

“After joking about raising vegetables and running a produce stand, we thought, ‘What can we make with the corn we grow?’” Buddy says.

And then it hit them: whiskey!

The Byrums began to learn about the emerging craft spirits movement and never looked back. In the fall of 2022, they opened Buffalo City Distillery, a grain-based distillery producing whiskeys, vodkas and gin, in Point Harbor.

Photo: Based in Point Harbor in Currituck County, Buffalo City Distillery is a grain-to-glass distillery using grains grown in nearby Hyde County.

Their number one distilling passion is fine, small-batch bourbon whiskey. In addition to bourbon, they offer a bourbon/rye whiskey blend, a Honey Roasted Almond Whiskey and a Crisp Apple Whiskey. Their fine, handcrafted vodkas include a classic vodka and flavored vodkas such as Blood Orange, Peach and Toasted Coconut. In June 2024 they released their first gin using fresh citrus ingredients and local lavender from Carolina Charm in Point Harbor.

“Our goal is to make fine spirits with a local Outer Banks character using local ingredients as much as possible,” Buddy says. “We strive to be the gold standard in craft cocktails in northeastern North Carolina."

Buffalo City Distillery’s tasting room and lounge provide an excellent environment to enjoy cocktails, and they also have a large, fully enclosed fenced backyard and covered seating area.

“We have created a welcoming place where locals and visitors gather, have fun with their families and pets, and enjoy premium handmade cocktails using the freshest ingredients,” Buddy says.

The distillery has become a popular gathering spot in Point Harbor, just a few miles on the Currituck County side of the Wright Memorial Bridge. They host a popular trivia night on Wednesdays, have live music on Fridays and Sundays and conduct distillery tours that can be reserved on their website. They also host special events such as cocktail classes, paint & sip and vendor markets throughout the year. Check out the current schedule on their Facebook page or website.

Photo: Duck residents Sharon and Buddy Byrum are the owners of Buffalo City Distillery.

Keep reading to see how Buddy manages work/play balance while running a busy distillery and tasting room on the Outer Banks.

How long have you lived on the Outer Banks and how did you end up here?

I grew up in Raleigh, and my parents bought a cottage in Kill Devil Hills between the roads near the old Croatan Hotel when I was about 5 years old. We would spend most weekends at the KDH cottage throughout my childhood. In the 1980s my parents built an oceanfront cottage in Duck. Sharon and I started building our home in Duck in 1999 and rented it out to weekly visitors until we moved in permanently in 2022.

How did you get into this line of work?

This was a brand-new adventure for us. I was a bourbon enthusiast, but the idea of starting a distillery just came together when we learned about the changing legal environment that was driving the craft distilling industry.

What did you do before you were in this business?

I worked in senior management at 3D Systems Corporation producing and selling commercial 3D printers.

What motivates you in your line of work?

It’s just a fun industry. The work is hard and can be strenuous. When customers taste our spirits and really like them it makes all our hard work worth it.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

Interacting with our customers during their visits to the distillery.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Keeping everything in good working order. We have a sophisticated modern distillery with many different types of equipment like a grain mill, a steam boiler, a chiller, agitator motors, computerized controls, copper stills, pneumatic valves and bottle fillers.

Which of your spirits do you like the best and why?

I’m a bourbon guy, so our East Lake Bourbon is my favorite. I like to relax and sip bourbon neat in a Glencairn tasting glass and enjoy the complex flavors while I unwind. Sharon is more of a cocktail enthusiast and is having lots of fun experimenting with our newly released gin.

Photo: Buffalo City Distillery released its first gin in June 2024.

What’s your favorite OBX town or village?

It’s Duck for sure. We raised our kids coming to Duck and spending almost every Christmas and spring break in our home when there were no renters.

What is your favorite thing about living on the Outer Banks?

The beauty of the ocean and sound. We truly live in paradise. Fresh local seafood is a bonus.

What is your favorite season on the Outer Banks?

Fall when the weather is still awesome and the pace slows down a bit.

What do you do for fun?

Play with our dogs, Cole and Buster, on the beach. We also like to explore the history of the Outer Banks.

What do you do in the off-season?

In the fall and winter I hunt deer, bear and ducks at our Hyde County farm.

What’s your favorite beach access?

Olde Duck Beach 100 feet from my front door.

Describe your perfect day off.

All my days off are perfect because we have the best staff at the distillery. I can truly take time off because I know the business is in good hands when I’m away.

Do you see more sunrises or sunsets?

We live one lot back from the ocean so we see more sunrises.

For a celebratory dinner, would you rather order take-out, go out to eat or cook something at home?

We like to cook at home but typically go out to eat on special occasions. So many good options here at OBX.

What is your favorite local seafood?

Fresh oysters in the winter.

What’s one thing you wish more Outer Banks visitors knew?

The rich history of the area, especially the history of Buffalo City that inspires our distillery. We talk a lot about the colorful Buffalo City history when visitors go on one of our distillery tours.

Photo: Buffalo City Distillery's vodkas, whiskeys and gin can be purchased at the distillery or in local ABC stores.

Where do you go on vacation?

We used to say Duck. Now it is visiting our kids. One lives in Boston, another in Arlington, Virginia, and the other in Hickory, North Carolina.

Do you have any side hustles?

Not in the liquor business, that’s a no-no!

Do you have any pet projects or is there a local nonprofit that you’re passionate about?

I play drums at Duck Church’s contemporary worship service every Sunday at 11 a.m.

What’s one item on your bucket list?

A trip to Greece.

Photo: The tasting room and lounge at Buffalo City Distillery is a popular hangout for trivia nights, live music and special events.

You can find Buffalo City Distillery at 8821 Caratoke Highway in Point Harbor. Find more information call (252) 491-7255 or click here.

About the Author Molly Harrison
Molly Harrison is managing editor at OneBoat, publisher of She moved to Nags Head in 1994 and since then has made her living writing articles and creating publications about the people, places and culture of the Outer Banks.