Latest Article|September 3, 2020|Free::
Making Grown Men Cry Since 1992
How did you get started in this business? Through school I gained an academic and practical experience while going for my chemistry degree. I spent years homebrewing and never made a beer worth a damn. I needed something to do with all that beer and figured I would learn to distill it into whiskey.Why did you choose this business? It probably picked me. Like I said, I’m a recovering unsuccessful homebrewer. There are a lot of really good brewers out there, especially here in Albuquerque. The craft distilling industry is still emerging and it felt like the perfect time to leverage my experiences.What is your business philosophy? It’s really pretty simple—honesty. The craft beer industry has been doing this right for a long time and the dividends are really starting to show. With craft distilleries it isn’t always that straightforward. We make 100% of our products here in our distillery. Wherever possible we use New Mexico ingredients like the corn in our bourbon and the pecans in our dark rum. Right now I could buy a barrel of aged whiskey from a factory in the mid-west, put it in bottles with our label on it and call it our own. We decided very early on that we couldn’t do that and still look you in the eye with a straight face. So we are honest about our New Mexico made products and New Mexico ingredients—and we are very proud of that.What is your or your company’s greatest asset?New Mexico is such a funny place (I’m born and raised here), but I feel like we are finally finding our identity as a state. We’re no longer the place people stop through on their way to Arizona or Colorado, but a destination in and of itself. This is no surprise with such an amazing landscape. So our greatest asset is easily our story. When people hear that we’re a couple of New Mexico boys using New Mexico ingredients to make New Mexico products, they get excited. And we get excited talking about it!What motivates you to succeed besides the desire to make money?The chance to look back and say that I built something. The opportunity that we have to build something from scratch—a great bourbon or a great vodka—and share it with people is such an amazing experience.What significant changes have you implemented recently?We decided to open up a tasting room at the Green Jeans Farmery. We didn’t have any immediate plans to do so, but the opportunity opened up and was too good to pass by. But that means that we are going through the state licensing process again and doing a build-out.What successes in the past year are you most proud of accomplishing?Pouring that first batch of bourbon into a barrel and tasting it a couple weeks later was the first time I took a sigh of relief during this whole process. It is going to be an amazing bourbon. I just hope I can wait two years for it to finish!How do you maintain your competitive edge?We have to constantly listen to our customers and innovate wherever we can. The breweries really have an advantage in that they can introduce a new product pretty quickly. We have to get federal approvals for formulas and labels and then make the stuff. Then god forbid we have to age it. Coming up with new products is a challenge, so we have to constantly be thinking three steps ahead.What are your growth goals?We’d like to maintain our growth into Albuquerque and New Mexico. Hopefully we will start to expand regionally but that is a little ways off.What contributions to the community (charitable or otherwise) are you most proud of?To date, we’ve been involved with the MS Society as donors. But I’m really excited about our Dogtoberfest this October 24th. We’ll be hosting a big dog festival with a costume contest, dog-carnival games, demonstrations. We’ll be doing this to benefit the Zia Australian Shephard Rescue.In what area of your business do you invest the most energy?Production. I’m constantly making our Holy Ghost Vodka. People seem to like it, which is a good problem to have.Do you have a hero or mentor—business or otherwise?My good friend David Peabody, owner of Fast Signs on Eubank has been a tremendous asset and amazing mentor to me.What do you look for in prospective employees?We have two employees that have completely taken ownership of our tasting room. I don’t have a bartending background, so everything in that part of the business is a learning experience to me. Jake, our bar manager, and Nicole, our events coordinator, both have taken on huge roles in our success. Really I look for that willingness to take ownership in what you do, as those two have done.