e’ve all fantasized about joining the circus, but the Pollock family actually did it—only instead of running away, they brought the show right to their hometown. At Backwards Distilling in Mills, Wyoming, carnival themes are everywhere, from the vintage Ringling Bros. posters on the tasting room wall to the names of all of Backwards’ grainto-glass spirits. Bottles of Ringleader Vodka, Contortionist Gin, Sword Swallower Rum, and Strong Man Navy Strength Gin line the shelves, all displayed in custom packaging that brings each character to life. “We’ve always loved the concept of the traveling circus,” says Amber Pollock, co-owner and tasting room manager. “It’s relevant around the world, and it’s been appreciated across time and across cultures.” Her brother, Chad, pipes in. “It also gives you so many visuals to work with— the characters, the colors, and the performance of it.” Backwards Distilling is a true family affair. It’s owned and operated by Bill and Kathy Pollock and their adult children, Amber and Chad. In 2014, each of the Pollocks found themselves at a point of transition. Bill had owned a business for 29 years and was ready to try his hand at something else. Kathy was contemplating her next move after nearly a decade of teaching. Chad had recently graduated from college, and Amber had just started teaching but couldn’t shake the idea that entrepreneurship might be more engaging.
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