Our Story

The Loaded Cannon history is short but sweet.  We opened our doors in July of 2017 and proud to be part of the community.  We’ve come a long way, Initially selected as one of USA Today’s top 10 new distilleries, and in 2023 selected as “The Best Of” Distilleries in Florida.  Along the way, named a finalist for Small Business of the year, best flavored vodka in NA, Gold Medal Bourbon, Best Tasting Room FL Gulf Coast, and more.  From producing hand sanitizer to supporting first responders we do our best to do our part as a good neighbor.  Yes, the Loaded Cannon history is short, but packed with awards and great products.

The Loaded Cannon set sail in late 2017 with the purpose of delivering quality spirits to Florida while reviving the rich history of piracy.   The Sun Coast of Florida has a rich heritage that we want to capture as we create hand crafted, unique spirits that put the pirate spirit in a bottle!

Our facility is meticulously designed to consistently produce spirits that are unique.  We are committed to being adventurous, and we let our customers play a large part in where we head and what we make.  That’s why our equipment is flexible.  It gives us the ability to make more than just rum, although we do make a great rum!   We want to be innovators, not duplicators. As the saying goes –

being the best is great, you’re the number one. Being unique is greater, you’re the only one.”

Therefore, “If you can’t be unique, why do it at all”.  In talking to us, you’ll quickly learn that we aren’t here to make money, we’re here to have fun and make our customers happy.  DISCLAIMER ALERT – To be clear, we’re not here to lose money either!

As part of our core beliefs, we will;

  • Be a good neighbor in the community
  • Buy locally when possible
  • Hold our quality to the highest possible standards
  • Treat our employees with respect
  • Be unique and travel the path least used

Our Crew

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Florida Raw Materials

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Our Progress

The History of Loaded Cannon

The theme of Loaded Cannon is chosen due to the rich pirate heritage of our area which includes the likes of Pascual Miguel-The Butcher, the beautiful Carlota, Ben Margoza, Jose Gaspar! Come learn about them all and find out which ones are real, and which are “exaggerated”.

The “Golden Age of Piracy” was between 1650 and 1720.  Thousands of pirates roamed the seas, many on the Sun Coast of Florida.  Join the crew of the majestic ship “Loaded Cannon” and journey back in time where you’ll learn some of the forgotten stories worthy of being retold.  

“Our spirits are not just hand crafted, they’re Copper Kissed”

The original name of “Loose Cannon” was a nickname our founder’s father and brother used to describe him.  That name was taken, so Loaded Cannon seemed appropriate.  The Loaded Cannon is a fictitious pirate ship of epic size, unmatched fortifications and a well-disciplined crew.  They carry a cargo of more value than gold – Loaded Cannon Spirits!  The distillery is named after the ship, and our theme true to the golden age of pirates!  Our large, all copper still, is named Anney and her smaller sister test still is Mary.  Named after the notorious female pirates Ann Bonney and Mary Read. Anney’s skills and bold flair are highlighted in our Vodka – Anney’s Blade.

The founder, president, Steve Milligan has never been able to sit still.  He always has to be doing something.  Steve, sort of “retired”, in 2017, but his friends and family knew he would have to stay active.  Making stuff is a passion, and when that “stuff” is 80 proof…. well, it’s just plain fun and exciting!  Steve has degrees in Chemical Engineering and International Management.  Since graduation in 1982 he has traveled the globe living in five countries, eight states and managed world-scale chemical facilities.  His career in the chemical industry started by, imagine this, becoming a distillation expert and preparing for the distillery he now runs.  Even prior to that, he was making beer in college for his friends.  Ironically, his senior lab project in college was distilling a water/alcohol solution.  Sadly, the professor would not allow them to drink the product!

Steve’s true love for making “spirits’ was born in Saudi Arabia, of all places.  The practice came with added anxiety, as being caught would result in significant punishment.   He was in Saudi working on a large project building a massive facility.  While there he lived in a Westerner compound where people had certain “needs”, and Steve did his best to deliver.  The first copper still was a fine piece of work…. looking more like a plumber’s leftovers than a fine distilling machine.  When attached to a five-gallon pressure cooker, it was an engineer’s dream.  Tie in circulating water from a garden store water pump, add ice, and viola we are in business!

Loaded Cannon is proud to be a part of Bradenton and the Lakewood Ranch community and we are committed to having our neighbors play a large part in what we produce.  You walk-in as a customer and walk out as a friend.

WE ARE PROUD TO BE THE FIRST distillery in Manatee County AND THE FIRST multiple spirit distillery in the region.