Artisan Spirit: Summer 2014

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flavors that can come out of basically the same grain. When it came time to make a career change it was kind of a natural thing for me to gravitate towards, and the more I looked into it the more it seemed less like an unrealistic, unattainable goal and more like it could possibly happen.” The pair traveled to Scotland in 2010, where Ryan studied at Springbank Distillery with Frank McHardy. Upon returning to the states, they toured craft distilleries and talked with the distillers to find out what it was like. Ryan said that once they really started moving forward it took about a year and a half to open. Ryan said that the Montana state government has been very accommodating to craft distillers and that Missoula is an excellent place for their business because the downtown is very vibrant and appreciative of local beer and spirits. “I think its right in line with the town,” he explains, “making our own stuff, having something local, and focusing on quality.” Montgomery works closely with many other Missoula charities and businesses. Besides hosting charity benefits, on “Moscow Mondays” a dollar of each cocktail purchase goes to selected charities to “redistribute the wealth.” They also partnered with nearby Wilma Theater for a Tuesday date night special, offering

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two movie tickets and two cocktails for twenty bucks. Taking advantage of their local brewing scene, Montgomery distilled some of Big Sky Brewing’s pale ale into a bierschnapps, then put the schnapps into a bourbon barrel that had already been used to age an imperial stout. “They aged their beer in an ex-bourbon barrel and then we distilled their beer and put it back

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in that barrel,” Ryan explained, saying that it took 1200 gallons of pale ale to produce one 53 gallon barrel of bierschnapps. Similarly, Ryan said Draughtworks Brewing in Missoula is brewing a beer, barrel aging that beer in a bourbon barrel, “and then we’re going to distill the beer and put it back in that bourbon

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cask. It’s going to be four different versions of the same beer – their original beer, their barrel-aged beer, our bierschnapps and our barrel-aged bierschnapps, and we’re going to release them all at the same time.” Head distiller and home brewer Chad Larrabee enjoys working with the breweries. Larrabee got an early start in fermentation when his first girlfriend’s father let him help make fruit wines. “I

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got really into it and after I moved to Montana I started brewing a lot of beer and eventually ended up working at a beer supply.” Larrabee was curious about distilling, and while working as a bartender he would often pick the brain of one of his regular customers, a college professor who specialized in natural product extraction and distilling. One night the two were talking and the Montgomerys attorney, in the next seat at the bar, overheard

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