Bozeman Spirits Distillery
By Taylor-Ann Smith Explore Big Sky Staff Writer
BOZEMAN – Walking into Bozeman Spirits Distillery, located next to the historic Charles Lundwall building in downtown Bozeman, you’re greeted with a relaxed atmosphere and genial staff ready to serve you. The tasteful pairing of reclaimed wood and metals throughout the space brings both history and modern charm to the tasting room. The focal point of the space is clearly the bar, which replicates that of an old saloon’s. Your fresh cocktail rests upon wood from the 1930s, which is part of the building’s original floor.
History is an intimate part of Bozeman Spirits Distillery as they aim to be a focal point of the downtown area, and the business prides itself on its Montana roots. Since opening its doors on Oct. 31, the distillery has created two types of vodka, a gin and a whiskey, using Montana ingredients and as many locally sourcing grains as possible. Each spirit is crafted with water sourced from the Hyalite, Sourdough and Bozeman Creek watersheds, and all distilling and bottling occurs in the back room of the distillery.
Bozeman Spirits offers an original vodka called Cold Spring Vodka, but it’s the Cold Spring Huckleberry Vodka that’s making a big statement in local restaurants. This mildly fruit-flavored spirit has replaced 44 North Huckleberry Vodka – a major competitor based out of Boise, Idaho – in downtown restaurants including Montana Ale Works, Plonk, and Open Range. Paradise Valley’s Chico Hot Springs has also been serving the local vodka in its bars, according to Bozeman Spirits owner Jim Harris.
“This was the first product I made back in the summer of 2012 and it’s become my pride and joy,” Harris said. “I felt if I could make great tasting products with the best ingredients, then that’d be where I succeed.”
Bozeman Spirits also crafts a Montana 1889 Whiskey, which is named for the date Montana gained statehood. This spirit is currently a blended whiskey using finely sourced, seven-year aged corn rye from the Eastern U.S. and blending it with whiskey they distill on site. As the company grows and produces more whiskey, this blend will eventually become 100 percent Montana sourced, Harris said. This whiskey is especially good in their staple cocktail, the Montana Mule. The drink is a twist on the classic Moscow Mule and features Montana 1889 Whiskey, ginger beer and a twist of lime served in a branded copper mug.
After completing the vodkas and whiskey, Harris wanted to continue testing his skills by distilling his Ruby River Gin. He explains that he was sitting on the bank of the Ruby River near Dillon, tying on a dry fly, and noticed how clear the water was – as clear as gin, he said. The subtle hints of botanicals create a smooth finish that pairs perfectly in their Gin & Juice cocktail, and it’s recently become a hit at the tasting room.
The distillery is a tasting room, and according to its liquor license, patrons are only allowed two servings at the bar and can purchase two bottles of liquor at a time. While it may be hard to limit yourself to just two drinks, they will likely be some of the best you’ll taste in town.