Have you noticed how new spirit producers seem to be popping up all over the place? Us too.
But look a little closer and you’ll notice something. A lot of these new companies don’t make their own stuff. They purchase distilled spirits made from a white label distillery and then slap on their own label and sell it as their own. Some take purchased spirits and barrel age them, adding their own stamp to the product. There is nothing wrong with any of this and you’ll find some perfectly good tipple made this way. Utah’s High West Distillery is one good example.
"But you don’t need to be a purist to prefer spirits made from scratch under one roof from grain to glass."
But you don’t need to be a purist to prefer spirits made from scratch under one roof from grain to glass. That means milling, mashing, fermenting and distilling everything on site. The number of new operations that do that is far fewer.
That’s not booze snobbiness (OK, it kinda is), but grain to glass distilleries offer a handmade product that tastes like it’s from somewhere. Somewhere delicious. While the grain might not be from nearby, all the decisions in the process (and even the climate) add up to a unique product that could only come from one place. And one of our favorite places happens to be in the heart of West County– Spirit Works Distillery.
"Grain to glass distilleries offer a handmade product that tastes like it’s from somewhere"
Like many new distilleries, founders Timo and Ashby Marshall sold vodka, gin and sloe gin (from Timo’s family recipe in England) after opening in 2014 while their rye and wheat whiskeys napped in oak barrels for two years. (They’re now aged four years). They also make a great barrel aged gin, something of a rare bird in these parts. The golden aged gin makes for a sprightly Manhattan. And we can’t wait for the single malt whiskey currently in barrels.
The distillery is also a rarity in that it’s a mainly women-run business in a male dominated industry. Head distiller Lauren Patz took over from Ashby in 2017. Ashby now runs the marketing department. She thinks the women’s touch creates more delicate and subtle flavors.
“We don’t want to hit you in the face with our spirits,” she says.
If you’re in town, take the tour. The gleaming stills and metal clad plumbing are sights to behold and when you learn it’s just two women who single-handedly run the operation, it drives home the handmade quality of Spirit Works. Once it’s in your glass, neat or in a cocktail, it’s clear you’re holding a spirit that’s from somewhere and it’s got a story to tell.