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At that point, the Pollocks knew they wanted to start a business, but they weren’t sure what kind. Then, one evening, Chad—a spirits fan and budding absinthe collector—was lamenting the challenges of shipping absinthe from Europe to Wyoming. Kathy stopped what she was doing, looked up, and asked, “Why don’t you just make it yourself?” “Everybody kind of paused for a second,” says Chad. And then, they started researching. After learning that making craft spirits in Wyoming was, in fact, not only feasible but a rapidly growing industry, the seeds for Backwards Distilling were planted. Yet for a new distiller, there was still a lot to learn. “It was a patchwork at the beginning,” says Chad. “And a lot of messing things up. I learned a whole bunch of what not to do. But then I spent a lot of time at Moonshine University, with Robert Birnecker, and with Dave Pickerell, and I started to learn.” Soon, he started experimenting with quirky ingredients like yams and Southeast Asian spices, and over time, he honed in on the flavor profiles that would become Backwards’ four primary products. Backwards Distilling has not one but two stills: A Kothe hybrid pot still that Amber calls their “workhorse” still, and a Vendome still equipped with a custom, extra-wide gin basket for vapor infusing Backwards’ Contortionist Gin. “Having two stills was an effort to make sure all our products didn’t gradually start to taste more and more like gin,” says Amber. There are about seven distilleries in Wyoming right now, with more on the way. To Californians or New Yorkers that may not sound like a lot, but it’s pretty remarkable when you consider that Wyoming has only 500,000 residents. “A lot of distilleries are in cities bigger than our entire state,” laughs Amber. Operating in a relatively small market like Wyoming comes with its share of challenges, as well as its perks. Early on, the Pollocks saw a sales report

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Artisan Spirit: Spring 2018  
Artisan Spirit: Spring 2018  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.