SUSTAINABLE DISTILLING at MARBLE DISTILLING COMPANY W R I T T E N & P H O T O G R A P H E D B Y CARRIE DOW
hen Connie Baker attended the Dry Fly Distilling Institute in Spokane, Washington, in January 2011, she was looking for a chance to have some alone time away from a busy life in Carbondale, Colorado. She didn’t plan on a life-changing experience. “I really loved vodka and had been reading a lot. I had just read a marketing book on Smirnoff and Absolut and that is my background. I never thought it was going to become this,” she says
as she changes out a hose from her 250-gallon finishing still named Hazel. “My mom always made this coffee liqueur around the holidays. When I walked into that [Dry Fly] distillery, you know your nose and your perceptions can take you back somewhere and can be so powerful. When I smelled those fermenters, it wasn’t necessarily a light switch, but I definitely felt something. I called my husband and said, ‘I’m going to open a distillery’.”
However, opening Marble Distilling Company and maintaining her belief of environmental stewardship came into conflict . Her Spirit Liaison, business partner, and long-time best friend Michelle Marlow remembers that time well. The two already owned a medical communications company with offices in New York and Colorado. Baker wanted to change careers but was conflicted. “As Connie was working on the business plan, she’s touring all these distilleries and was appalled at how much water and energy is wasted. Not only how much it takes to make, but how much is just flushed. Water goes down a drain at 90 degrees Celsius, super high temperatures, and some distilleries even flush their stillage. She said to me, ‘I want to make spirits, but I don’t want to ruin the environment by doing it.” To that end, Baker built sustainability into her business plan. She purchased
American-made equipment, sourced ingredients as locally as possible, and implemented a water reclamation system that heats and cools the building. And stillage? It all goes to a local ranch to feed cattle and pigs. It’s a process that Baker and Marlow call Grain to Glass to Ground. “There are a lot of great spirits out there,” says Marlow, “but our sustainability initiatives are really our biggest differentiator.” The distillery’s website has slogans and hashtags, like #drinksustainably and #liquidchange, however, this distillery walks the walk starting with ingredients. Most grains come from only a halfmile away. When Baker started in 2015, she sourced her grains from Colorado Malting Company in Alamosa, Colorado. However, that wasn’t close enough. After partnering with a local familyowned ranch to take spent grains for their cattle, a family member looking to diversify approached her about growing grains as well. Recognizing an
The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.