Sweet and spirited

Among Ohio’s numerous tourism “trails” that group loosely kindred attractions to create a single novelty destination, the recently conceived Sweets and Spirits Trail in Miami County seems a perfect pairing for this time of year.

Launched in March 2023, the 19-stop trail is a creation of the Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau. “Miami County has a long-standing candy shop in its sixth generation (Winans Chocolates + Coffees in Troy) and three vintage candy shops, one in each of its largest three downtown communities,” says Leiann Stewart, the bureau’s executive director. “That prompted the original idea of a sweets trail, and as     we were discussing trail ideas, sweets and spirits just fit together.”

Visitors at Indian Creek Distillery cozy up to the bar for some samples.

Visitors at Indian Creek Distillery cozy up to the bar for some samples.

Customers at Rad Candy Company survey the retro candy offerings, including Pop Rocks, Necco Wafers, and Clark Bars.
Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Company in Troy offers an array of freshly baked cookies, including oatmeal raisin and ginger molasses.
Greg Taylor pours a bottle of whiskey at Hayner Distilling in Troy.

My husband, Mike, and I made a date of it recently. To guide us along the route, we downloaded the Miami County Sweets and Spirits Trail app, which showcases all stops and includes a map with distances between each location. Some spots offer incentives for visiting, including purchase discounts, free samples, or a free shot glass. As we virtually checked in at each location, we earned points toward prizes from the visitors bureau.

We were taken with the area’s charming small towns and the warmth and authenticity of the trail’s shop owners. For example: 

  • Indian Creek Distillery on Missy Duer’s family farm in New Carlisle — which was new to us, although not new at all. Missy and her husband, Joe, revived the farm’s old distillery in 2012. “This farm’s been in my family for over 200 years,” she says. “I’m the sixth of seven generations that have actually worked here.” 7095 Staley Road, New Carlisle, OH 45344; www.indiancreekdistillery.com.
  • In historic downtown Tipp City, we discovered Rad Candy Company, a quaint sweets shop owned by Kari and Mark Underwood and Chad Mowen, whose enthusiasm was apparent as they invited us on a delightful trip down memory lane with their offerings of retro delights such as Pop Rocks, Necco Wafers, and hot-selling Clark Bars. In addition to candy, they also offer glass-bottle sodas, Ashby’s Sterling Ice Cream, toys, comic books, vintage Halloween masks, and packs of unopened trading cards. “We want everyone to come in and find something that reminds them of their childhood,” Kari Underwood says. 114 E. Main St., Tipp City, OH 45371; www.facebook.com/radcandyco.
  • In downtown Troy, we encountered more sweets at Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Company. Founded by Margaret Berg, a Culinary Institute of America alum, Bakehouse offers a delightful array of freshly baked cookies — as well as a 20-year-old sourdough starter. 317 Public Square SW, Troy, OH 45373; https://bakehousebread.com.

As it approaches its first anniversary, the trail has drawn nearly 500 pass holders working to complete the trail for fun and prizes.

“Miami County has some really great history and businesses with a story to tell,” Stewart says. “That’s why we created the trail.” Plans are in the works to expand the trail by as many as 10 new stops, including ice cream parlors. 

Here are a few other stops we explored on our trip:

  • A.M. Scott Distillery: Anthony Scott, former co-owner of Moeller Brewing, opened his newest concept in a historic 1920s Pontiac dealership in Troy last September. Technically, it’s a blending company; Scott purchases distillate from outside of Ohio, blends and bottles the whiskeys, and then sells them under the A.M. Scott label. The luscious single-barrel rye demonstrates the company’s focus on flavor and affordability. “I wanted a top-end whiskey at an affordable price,” Scott says. “We’re trying not to kill folks on the price.” 250 S. Mulberry St., Troy, OH 45373; www.scottdistillery.com.
  • Hayner Distilling: Founded in 2018 by Greg Taylor and Andrew Wannemacher, Hayner Distilling in Troy resurrects the pre-Prohibition Hayner Distilling Company, once one of the state’s largest distilleries. Using a surviving 110-year-old bottle of Hayner Whiskey, the distillery partnered with Kentucky’s Bardstown Bourbon Company to produce the first new batch of Hayner in more than a century. The bottle shop has limited hours on the weekends, when visitors can stop in to shop and taste. 619 Lincoln Ave., Troy, OH 45373; www.haynerdistilling.com.
  • Dobo’s Delights Bake Shoppe: Visitors and locals alike enjoy the sweet traditions of Hungary at Dobo’s in Piqua. Cindy Dobo, a baker with a passion for authenticity, has owned the shop for 25 years. She makes an assortment of pastries, like crescent-shaped linzers and the eight-layer Dobos Torte, with some seriously old, yet high-quality, equipment. Don’t miss the Cinnamon Pinwheels, a nostalgic favorite. “Everybody’s mother or grandmother made them with leftover pie dough,” Dobo says. “We started making them, and people love them.” 417 N. Main St., Piqua, OH 45356; https://dobosdelights.com.
  • Crooked Handle Brewing Company: Celebrating its first-year anniversary in downtown Piqua, Crooked Handle Brewing Company anchors Lock Nine Park, a scenic community hub preserving the historic Miami and Erie Canal Lock 9. Nestled in a century-old building, the brewery offers German lagers, wheat beers, American amber ales, and hard ciders. Brewmaster and owner Jason Moore established the business in 2015, and the Piqua pub is its second location. 123 N. Main St., Piqua, OH 45356; https://crookedhandle.com.