MicroShiner Definitive guide to the world of craft spirits
Mountain View Orchards
Adding value with aged apple brandy and honey spirits Great American
Portland hosts the 8th Annual
Doors open at Missoula, Montana’s first and only microdistillery
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CONTENTS feature Montgomery Distillery
Great American Distiller’s Festival Swanson’s Mountain View Orchards
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craft Music 8 Design 10 Artisan 56 MicroShiner.com │ 3
Publisher Cobey Williamson Contributing Editor Noel Phillips Art Director Annie Young
Working Dog Media LLC 1406 Summerdale Rd Corvallis, MT 59828
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Robin Johnson is a writer, farmer, outdoorsman, and Northwest native living in Portland, Oregon. He writes about science, agriculture, the environment and, more recently, the process of crafting the communitycommunitybuilding fluids we love so much.
Brian Johnson is a freelance photographer based in Missoula, Montana. He and his wife operate www.ayresphotography.com
Noel Phillips has been writing since she first encountered crayons and primary paper. She has graduated to the world of laptops and freelance magazine writing but is still known to pull those crayons out occasionally. When she's not writing, she may be hard to find since she could be out climbing, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, road biking, dancing, paddlepaddleboarding, or kicking clientsâ€™ butts at her personal training and yoga studio.
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Letter from the publisher
There is so much to love about the craft spirit movement. Enjoying standing room only and the best vodka I have ever tasted at Montgomery Distillery during a First Friday, I can’t help but feel good about being a part of this scene. Every single facet appears bound and determined to stand a head above the rest. And as I peel back the layers, I find the scale of its compass to be truly inspiring.
Each word of the label suggests a near infinite realm of possibility. Craft. Spirit. Movement. Each expression noteworthy in its own right and, when used together, capable of evoking an alternate universe ably fashioned of quality, refinement, and distinction. A world filled with superior goods, made by hand in well-formed and thought out spaces by artisans who border on friends, and whose value is greater than their mere economic worth. It’s bigger than a trend. It’s a movement. Of the three, movement for me is most key. It’s where the rubber meets the road. You can have craft, you can have spirit, but if there is no movement, where can it take you? Without movement, the rest is a sealed room. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m first to take a flask to hunting camp or a tailgate, and I love that I can now fill that flask with honey spirits from Swanson’s Orchard or with Quicksilver vodka from Montgomery’s in Missoula. It thrills me to know that Lukas has barrels of brandy aging just up the road and that I’m helping Ryan and Jenny get their business off the ground. But what really excites me is the larger consequence that the significant growth in micro distilling implies. There is a movement, to smaller, closer, more personal. It can be found in any industry you care to look. From clothes and food to tools and custom motorcycles, people are seeking out small batch production more and more. It’s certainly not the majority, but it can’t be overlooked. Because it’s a movement. One that has only just begun. Salute! Cobey Williamson Publisher
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Craft: Music Rose’s Pawn Shop I was enjoying a meal on the balcony of our local brewery with my in-laws when Rose’s Pawn Shop started playing, and I had to get out of my seat to see just exactly who I was hearing. From the very first intro, I was sold, and when I returned to our table I had a big grin on my face and it wasn’t from the Nut Brown Ale. “New favorite band,” I told the wife. What seals the deal with Rose’s for me, beyond their superb musicianship, excellent songwriting, and unassuming style, is their almost undeniable appeal. Before we left the brewery, my father-in-law bought their album. My wife and her sister love them, and my boy has pretty much been reared on Rose’s. Play the cut Dancing on the Gallows from the album of the same name while cruising down the highway and you best prepare to see a two year old in a car seat come unglued. You really don’t get better than this blend of Appalachia and Hollywood. Rose’s has the ferocity of Henry Rollins, the relevance of Woody Guthrie, and the foot-stompin’ authority of an honest to goodness square dance caller. Do yourself a favor. If they come to a venue near you, go see them. You’ll be happy you did. The latest offering from Rose’s Pawn Shop is called The Arsonist.
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Traff the Wiz Traff is to hip-hop music what craft distilling is to spirits: he’s got the skills to hold it down with the best of them, but he’s filled to the brim with local flavor. Born and bred under the big sky of Montana, Traff overflows with small town American angst, but wields the mic with a philosophical bent that would make a college lecturer proud. He has the poet’s gift, able to express the universal through the specific, and his rhymes are filled with homegrown props and landmark drops that evoke landscapes and experiences that ring true whether they are native or not. Like a shot of small batch whiskey, Traff the Wiz gives you a taste of places you have never been but already know, lights a fire in your belly, and then finishes smooth, leaving you feeling warm and fuzzy and already coming back for more. Check out his latest drop Traffghanistan at http://traffthewiz.bandcamp.com/album/traffghanistan
Larry and his Flask The name says it all for Larry and his Flask. There is no one in the band named Larry, and their sound closely resembles a fire-breathing whiskey drunk. Their fusion of punk rock and old timey is the musical equivalent of the Coen Brothers combining No Country For Old Men with Oh Brother Where Art Thou? You can either like it or get the hell out of its way. The true beauty of the Flask is their undying marriage to the road. Live music is akin to Nirvana in the digital age, and the Flask has it spades and brings it with a vengeance. Getting a studio album out of them is like pulling teeth. Its sucks before, and it’s no fun during, but it has to be done and we’re better off for it. Here’s to the road, Larry. Salute! Pick up their latest EP called Hobo’s Lament
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Craft: Design David Lyman Design
- Lake Forest Park, WA
David Lymanâ€™s LEED AP design and illustration practice has focused on the hospitality industry for nearly 20 years. Working with restaurateurs, hoteliers, casino and resort owners, his specialty is the early, efficient study of a client's intentions and goals. Collaborative communication of those goals leads rapidly to conceptual designs that allow the client to remain in control of the process.
All (or any) conceptual design aspects are offered: Floor Plan layout options, Site Plan layout studies of any scale, Architectural Design and Interior Planning, Tenant Improvement Layouts.
Design Illustration is a specialty, from QuickSketch rapid visualization, to fully-developed finished Renderings.
Using the time-honored combination of brain, eye, and hand, David's sketch-design expertise allows for very time-effective turnaround. He provides design drawings that actually make it easy to understand where the project is going- and which allow for change along the way. David offers Computer 3-D modeling, another effective tool in designing and communicating ideas. Contact David Lyman Design via: www.lyman-design.com phone (206) 361-1355 or email at: email@example.com
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Photograph by Derek Young │ Guided Eye Photography M i c r o S h i n e r . c o m │ 11
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Montgomery Distillery Missoula, Montanaâ€™s first micro-distiller offers craft spirits and a refined atmosphere
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It began as a joke.
Ryan and Jenny Montgomery were looking to return to the States from
Malta (as in the island south of Sicily). They had a new son and wanted to raise him in Missoula, Montana, so they sat down and created a list of businesses that would work well in this western college town. “Number one was make whiskey, kind of as a joke,” Ryan explains, laughing. But then they started meeting with distillers and realized that they might just have the golden ticket granting them access to life in Missoula. Home to a number of successful craft breweries and a population passionate about supporting locally made product, Ryan felt it was the right place to build a distillery. It was the sort of town that “seemed like a great place to try out new things.”
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Having no background in distilling did not stop Ryan. He had experience in home brewing, and enjoyed whiskey and cocktails, and as he puts it, â€œa lot of businesses are started by people that enjoy something and want to make it.â€? Armed with his passion, he traveled to distilling schools in Scotland and another put on by Dry Fly Distillery out of Spokane, Washington, and learned the art. And make it he did. Vodka, to be specific. And not just any vodka. Quicksilver Vodka stays true to its Montana roots with its clean flavor and slightly buttery mouth feel, instantly bringing to mind the pure, crisp water of the high mountains that surround Missoula and the locally harvested wheat used in the distilling process. The 21 plate rectifying column ensures maximum contact with copper, removing the sulfites and providing the clean taste vodka is known for.
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Vodka is not all Ryan has up his sleeves, though. Whyte Ladie Gin, three types of whiskey, liqueurs, and shrubs (mixtures of fruit, sugar and vinegar) will be on future menus. Montgomery master distiller Ryan Newhouse was hard at work in the distillery beneath the tasting room with several varieties of shrubs, such as rhubarb-cinnamon, honey, Dixon melon, Flathead cherry, and a coffee liqueur made from beans from the local Black Coffee Roasting Company. The gin, flavored with botanicals harvested from the mountains, was just about to be tested, so consumers should see it on the distillery shelves in the near future. Better buckle on some patience for the whiskey, though. It’s still three years out. The liqueurs and shrubs, though, are already appearing on Montgomery Distillery’s creative cocktail menu. Jenny Montgomery is the brains behind the ever-changing menu that features drinks like the Indian Summer, a refreshing blend of vodka, lime juice, agave syrup, muddled strawberry, and jalapeno; and Fat-Washed Vodka, featuring chilled vodka infused with acorn-fed hog fat and garnished with a cheese-stuffed olive.
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Sitting at the handcrafted bar, a replica of one owned and operated by Ryan’s great-great-uncle, beneath big game mounts donated by the Boone and Crockett Club, it is easy to be transported back to the late nineteenth century, a time when western saloons tried to bring a little glamour to their rough environs by emulating the upscale bars of New York and Chicago. The space Montgomery Distillery occupies on Front Street in downtown Missoula is no greenhorn when it comes to changing with the city. Its previous incarnations include saloon, liquor store, bordello, gentlemen’s clothier, farm equipment supplier, outdoor gear store, and now distillery and tasting room. Most distilleries are in industrialized areas, but Ryan believed it was important to have a location in the heart of the city. He wanted to “bring something to downtown that hasn’t been here before.” A unanimous vote by the city council demonstrated that Missoula was ready for something different as well. Not only does Montgomery Distillery try to bring something new and interesting to the marketplace with its well-crafted spirits, but they also give back to the community in the way of charitable contributions, and in maintaining an environmentally sound enterprise. Waste produced through the distilling process is composted and given as feed to pigs at a local farming collective and to companies like Blue Marble Biomaterials.
Missoula has high expectations for its homegrown businesses, and residents love their local products. Ryan Montgomery hopes to live up to those expectations and “make people proud we are here.”
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Portland brings the world of craft spirits to the Pacific Northwest at the 8th annual
The Great American Distillers Festival It was a typically gray weekend in the Rose City, and rain slapped the wet pavement of downtown Portland. The weather may have been cold and dreary, but for about 1,000 admirers of fine liquor, the 8 th annual incarnation of the Great American Distillers Festival offered a warm refuge from the elements. From every corner of the nation (and even one from Brazil), craft distillers descended on the city of Portland, Oregon, in order to showcase their small batch liquors, as well as mix and pour samples of their holiday specialty cocktails. Within the mass of finely-tuned blends, all designed to conjure nostalgic remembrances of fall, three particular distillers managed to marry a perfect combination of sweet and spicy essence that made their liquor come through smooth and warm.
Louisville Distilling Co. poured a "Fallen Angel"; aptly named after their Angel's Envy Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey which was the base liquor for the drink. A combination of Ruby port, lemon juice, apple cinnamon fall syrup, aromatic bitters, and orange peel (flamed, of course) was one of the three mixology contest winners.
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Sound Spirits of Seattle pulled out all the stops as well, inventing their very own "Self Starter". The cocktail is a mixture of their Ebb+Flow Gin, absinthe, Cocci Americano, and apricot brandy. The strong absinthe flavor didn't overpower, as it was only used to rinse the chilled coupe that the drink was mixed in. Sound Spirits is a landmark distiller in the Northwest as Seattle's first distillery since Prohibition. Their liquor has a lot to live up to and it does so with humility.
Bull Run Distilling Co. poured the Portland's own
most talked-about cocktail (likely due to their use of pumpkin butter). The "Temperance Harvest" was a mixture of Bull Run's Temperance Trader Bourbon, pumpkin butter, fresh lemon juice, Angostura bitters, and dry hard cider. The drink was then finished with whipping cream, more bourbon, and a dash of allspice. It's no doubt that on a cold, rainy weekend, the most buttery drink got the most buzz. Although the event provided liquor enthusiasts with a variety of spirits, many distillers focused on bringing character back to vodka, claiming that many large distilleries have saturated the vodka market with odorless and tasteless vodkas. Instead, distilleries like OYO (out of Ohio) and Dry Fly (of Eastern Washington) make their vodka from scratch and use locally sourced soft white wheat to produce a round, flavorful alcohol.
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By their careful distilling process, oily fusil alcohols are removed without sacrificing the integrity of the vodka. These legitimate vodkas instill a sense of place within the drinker distinctively reflective of their origins. Dry Fly won the World's Best Vodka in 2009 and was the first distillery in Washington State, essentially writing the laws for future Washington distilleries. Portland's own distilleries had a strong presence at the event, their products standing out and their booths swarmed. But as seems to be the case with northwest micro distilleries, these crafters are still new to the market. According to the folks at Portlandâ€™s
New Deal Distillery, there was no micro distilling industry at all when they tried to get their start in 2001. New Deal paired up with other distillers in the area and formed Distillery Row, a community of practicing distillers in Southeast Portland who would break into the industry together through what could be called a distiller's incubator. Now, after 9 years, people are finally becoming aware of the movement as the industry matures. Thanks to successful events such as the Great American Distiller's Festival, the craft movement is not only alive but thriving in the Pacific Northwest. And although competition is tough, distillers throughout the nation are finding at these forums the inspiration to create better spirits all across the country. Expect liquor devotees to be eagerly awaiting next year's Festival, where they can retreat from the omnipresent Portland drizzle and warm themselves from the inside out.
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Photograph by Taylor Stasulas
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Photography by Derek Young │ Guided Eye Photography
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Swansonâ€™s Mountain View Orchards & Distillery A fourth generation apple grower finds a niche for himself and his products in the world of craft spirits
Words and photos by Cobey Williamson
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“If you can’t taste the ingredients, what’s the point?”
If you were out to find the embodiment of small batch production, you need look no further than Lukas Swanson’s distillery.
It’s a one man operation,
situated on the family apple orchard in Corvallis, Montana, and the apple brandy and honey spirits it produces have Lukas’ hands on them from end to end. “It’s the only distillery in the state of Montana that grows, ferments, distills and bottles their product,” Lukas says. Established in 1909 by Lukas’ great grandfather, Swanson’s Mountain View Orchards has been family owned and operated for four generations. A surplus crop in 2007 got Lukas thinking about alternative sources of revenue and new outlets for their product. When he looked out east he found many orchards were making wine or distilling, and the business model appealed to him. That was also the year that micro-distilling became legal, and Lukas considered it a growth market. After some diligent research and planning, he began the process and became a licensed distiller in January 2011. With a wealth of raw ingredient, apple brandy was the logical product of choice. Lukas also saw a niche. “If you go down to the liquor store,” he says. “Good brandy is hard to find.” He also points out that there is nostalgia for products such as hard cider and apple jack. When people come to an apple orchard, he notes, they want an apple based product. M i c r o S h i n e r . c o m │ 43
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Lukas’ first run of traditional apple brandy will be aged three years in charred white oak. He tests his product in ten gallon barrels, experimenting with three different levels of toasting and charring, however Lukas makes a point to never allow the barrel aging to overshadow his ingredients. His upbringing as an apple man shines through in his distilling philosophy, which is to create value added agricultural products, not just booze. “If you can’t taste the ingredients, what’s the point?” he asks. “That’s the line I don’t want to cross with what I make.” With his first batch of brandy barreled and aging, Lukas turned his attention on making spirits from honey. First he distills honey mead then ages it for one year, imparting the unique honey spirit with a sweet flavor reminiscent of bourbon. He likes the character and balance, but depending on demand may experiment with longer aging. Aging, he explains, is driven by demand. It’s these simple principles of micro-economics that hold so much allure for many involved with small batch production. Distribution, on the other hand, is an entirely different animal. Alcohol distribution in Montana follows the three tier system, and the State of Montana maintains a monopoly on wholesaling. All sales to retailers must originate, physically, from the state warehouse in Helena, a service for which the state takes a sizeable percentage. Still, this doesn’t deter Lukas or detract from his savvy business sense and obvious enthusiasm. M i c r o S h i n e r . c o m │ 45
That’s the line I d
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don’t want to cross with what I make.
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“It doesn’t make sense to me the way the system is set up, but it is what it is,” he says. “Right now, I’m not looking to get into that and I’m not at that scale.” The system of state wholesalers and distribution networks seems stacked against the smaller distilleries who, even if they can afford to participate, still have to find a way to market their products to retailers, but Lukas remains optimistic. The volume of retail traffic the apple and cider products bring through the orchard provide him with ample exposure, and he hopes that changes in the future will make the retail environment more favorable. For now he intends to let the business dictate growth, not committing to any particular track or invest too heavily in any one thing. His plan is to pay off his current investment in equipment and expand the distillery into the main apple and cider processing facility in order to capitalize on shared resources and efficiencies. For Lukas, a Cornell graduate with a background in physics and chemistry and a master’s degree in applied engineering, time is an asset. “With distilled products, shelf life is value added,” he says.
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D. Blair Moore D. Blair Moore is an artist who makes things that serve a purpose. A blacksmith by trade, he trained at the Missoula College of Technology and was mentored in the craft by the American College of the Building Arts and master blacksmiths in Madison, Wisconsin. Having done the plug and weld kind of job, which he calls “fun but not quite as entertaining,” he began to realize the opportunities in creating steel objects. Currently he focuses on functional home accessories and artistic hardware that can be built on a small scale and kept on hand but he notes, “bring me an idea and I’ll do my best to get it done.”
DBM Blacksmith exemplifies the notion of small batch, hand built production, where clients have the opportunity to meet the person making the product and provide input to the process. D. Blair Moore creates made-to-order and custom steel objects that reflect both his distinct style and his client’s personal taste.
Based in Missoula, Montana, DBM Blacksmith is available for both on-site projects and delivered goods. Visit his website and Etsy store to learn more about his operation and to find an assortment of his handmade metal items including barbecue utensils, ornamental copper roses, and candlestick holders.
DBM Blacksmith www.dbmblacksmith.com www.etsy.com/shop/DBMblacksmith email: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: 406.531.5220
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Join the movement small batch revolution
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