Montana Craft Distilleries:
Updated: Aug 20, 2019
A Guide to Spirits across the State
In the last few years, Montanans have enjoyed the expanding trend of microdistilleries, or craft distilleries, which are smaller-batch commercial distilleries using seed potatoes, Golden Triangle grains, Flathead Cherries and other locally-grown commodities to craft unique, Montana-made alcoholic spirits.
Below is a listing of Montana's current small-batch distillers. While as comprehensive as possible, the following does rely on self-reporting. Please contact email@example.com with updates or questions.
115 Fourth Avenue
In July 2018, Neil and Alyssa Crawford opened the Crawford Distillery in Havre after working on the project for nearly five years. Crawford took classes in Kentucky at Moonshine University in the basics of distilling and now vodka, whiskey and bourbon are distilled at the facility in addition to rum and moonshine.
The tasting room at the distillery has a menu of mixed drinks including Sweetgrass Sweet Tea and the Apple Pie Moscow Mule, a mixed drink made with Milk River Moonshine. The names of the drinks offered at the tasting room are tied to the local area and each bulk bottle has an anecdote about Havre on the label.
2223 Montana Ave
Owners Robert Ochsner and Ted Reichert launched Asylum Distillery in downtown Billings in March 2018. The distillery features a tasting room and produces vodka, gin, rum, and whiskey from locally-sourced ingredients. Reichert also produces specialty spirits of flavored moonshine.
1400 S 24th St. West
In 2013, Casey and Steffanie McGowan successfully navigated the state and federal licensing procedures, installed custom equipment, and opened Trailhead Spirits in a brick building in the Billings Depot complex. The distillery and tasting room relocated to the West End of Billings in January 2019 where it continued producing award-winning vodka, gin and a rye, wheat and chocolate-flavored whiskey.
Spirits are manufactured in a 300-liter hand hammered copper still with a towering 16 plate column which was designed by Arnold Holstein of Markdorf, Germany. Spanning four generations and over 125 years, the McGowens are part of a family history of farming, distilling and marketing spirits to Montanans.
In 1889, Casey’s great-grandfather Frank McGowan was one of the original homesteaders in the “Golden Triangle” of north-central Montana. Although oats and hay were the predominant crops before the turn of the century, wheat and barley began to take hold as the grains of choice as equipment and techniques improved. Wheat from the original farmland of the McGowan family is the primary source of grains for Trailhead’s distilled products.
Casey’s other great-grandfather Michael Healy arrived from Ireland to Butte in the early 1900s. He owned several liquor establishments in Montana and during prohibition, he used the establishments to sell tobacco, coffee, and candy in the front of the house while successfully running speakeasies behind closed walls. Healy was well-known as a moon-shining bootlegger but also positioned well politically within his circle of friends including law enforcement, attorneys and judges. Upon retirement he sold the iconic back bar from his most famous establishment “Radio Bar” as a gesture to a friend for $1. The oak masterpiece made its way up the Missouri River on steam boat to Fort Benton, was moved by horse and cart to Butte and can be seen today in use at the historic Pioneer Bar in Virginia City.
121 W Main St
Since 2014, Bozeman Spirits Distillery in downtown Bozeman has been producing several whiskeys, 3 vodkas, gin, mescal/tequila and aged rum using as many Montana grains as possible. The 1889 whiskey, created with a blend of malted barley, rye and corn and aged a minimum of 12 months, is named for the first year of Montana statehood.
All the malted barley and rye used in the distilling process at Bozeman Spirits is Montana-sourced. Along with locally-sourced grains and produce, pure Montana Rocky Mountain water is among the selling points of the Bozeman Spirits Distillery products.
Mary Pat and Jim Harris founded and own Bozeman Spirits Distillery. Also, they are part owners of the adjoining White Dog Brewery and tap room on Main Street in Bozeman.
111 E Oak St #1E
Wildrye, like its cousins in the Montana craft distilling scene, has a soft spot for heritage. Phil Sullivan, who has a PhD in organic chemistry and still teaches the occasional course at Montana State University, comes from Tennessee moonshiner stock. His grandfather ran a still outside of Gatlinburg during Prohibition.
“It was a time when banks were few and often distrusted, and rural people commonly used hooch as currency,” Sullivan says.
Sullivan’s brother-in-law, Matt Moeller is his partner in the venture. Moeller grew up on a farm in the Bitterroot Valley that his father still owns and runs. The idea for the distillery grew partly out of the annual problem of what to do with bushels of unsold sweet corn on the Moeller farm at the end of every summer. After launching the distillery, Wildrye launched Sweetcorn Bourbon Whiskey made from this unsold corn.
Wildrye’s spiced rum is made from Montana sugar beets. Their signature delicacy—Wildrye Apple Pie—is made from a blend of Montana apple cider (with apples from Moeller’s dad’s neighbors), bourbon, and apple pie spices.
106 Village Center Lane
Four Corners, Montana
Dry Hills Distillery and tasting room opened in the spring of 2016 in Four Corners. Jeff and Erica Droge are the managing members of the distillery. Both attended Moonshine University and developed a business plan for a Montana distillery utilizing his 19 years of farming experience and her decade of work in the marketing industry.
All the products created at Dry Hills Distillery are sourced from the Droge family farms in Montana.
The Droge family operates a fifth-generation farm in the Manhattan area known as the Dry Hills and another family operation known as London Hills Farm in the Harrison area. Between the two family farms, several hundred acres of certified seed potatoes and several thousand acres of mixed cereal grains are raised. The idea for a distillery emerged after realizing that about five to eight percent of their seed potato harvest was being thrown away every year for cosmetic reasons.
Currently, the distillery is producing two vodkas, a gin made from potatoes and a wheat whiskey in production. Read Farm to Flask: Microdistilleries Create A New Market for Montana Grains for more information on Droge Farms and the Dry Hills Distillery.
312 Main Street
Willie’s Distillery was established in 2010 by founders Willie and Robin Blazer to showcase local, Montana ingredients.
Spirits distilled include a Montana Moonshine and a Honey Moonshine that have won gold medals at the Los Angeles Crafts Spirits Awards. Their Snowcrest Vodka, Bighorn Bourbon, Canadian Whiskey, Coffee Liqueur and Huckleberry Cream Liqueur have also won awards around the country and their Chokecherry Liqueur won first place at the Chokecherry Festival in Lewiston, Montana in 2014.
Willie, originally from Appalachian moonshine country in western North Carolina, is a veteran of the United States Armed Forces and U.S. Forest Service and his wife Robin is currently president of the Montana Distiller’s Guild.
The distillery uses a copper pot made specifically for their company by Bavarian Holstein Stills from Germany. Using Montana-grown produce and corn, barley and oats they distill spirits and bottle, label, cork and pack all of their spirits by hand. Their tasting room is located at the distillery on Main Street in Ennis.
21 South Montana Street
In 2010, John and Courtney McKee founded Headframe Spirits “in celebration of Butte’s spirit.” Standing on the confluence of four lodes of ore in one of the city’s historic buildings, the company was founded with respect for the history of the city, the legacy of the mines and the people who worked there.
Named one of the U.S.A. Today top ten best craft specialty spirits distilleries in the country, Headframe Spirits takes their name from the headframes that lowered miners hundreds of feet into the earth beneath streets of Butte and, in particular, the historic building at 21 South Montana Street where the distillery is located.
Each spirit produced pays tribute to the mines of Butte, Montana, noting the history of a specific mine and those who worked there on the label. Spirits are produced using grain from Montana fields: winter wheat, rye, corn and barley.
In addition to the distillery and tasting room, Headframe also operates a distilling equipment manufacturing facility.
790 Front Street
Helena’s only microdistillery is located in the former Montana Distillery and Bottling Warehouse at the north end of Helena’s historic Last Chance Gulch. Launched in 2016 as a partnership project between by Tyrrell Hibbard and Steffen Rasile, the distillery uses as many Montana’s fine grains and herbs as possible in the process of crafting spirits.
In crafting their recent Gulch’s Neighborhood Apple Brandy, they asked the community for apples in exchange for free drinks.
They distill gin, rum, fernet, and vodka and continue to distill and age whiskey. Gulch Distillers Amari, a bittersweet liquor, was recently highlighted on liquor.com, noting a “beautifully balanced blend of saffron, chamomile, mint, myrrh, rhubarb and other local botanicals macerated in a Montana-sourced grain base.”
Gulch Distiller’s Purple Prairie Barley Whiskey is an entire local grain economy in a bottle. It’s made in Helena out of malted barley from a maltster in Great Falls, wheat from Townsend and barley from Timeless Seeds in Ulm.
Gulch Distillers won Gold, Best in Class and Best in Show for its Burrone Fernet, a specialty spirit made with a variety of botanicals, at the American Craft Sprits Competition in February 2019. Best of Show is the ultimate honor bestowed at the event which is hosted by America’s only national registered nonprofit trade association for U.S. craft spirits.
37 Muffley Lane
In 2014, John and Snezhi Grahlert founded Stonehouse Distillery in Winston, Montana to handcraft small-batch rum and whiskey. Snezhi’s family recipes were perfected over years in Bulgaria where the art of hand-crafting spirits was traditionally passed down from one generation to another. John came to Montana from Germany where his family was involved in developing various clear grain spirits, typically called “Korn,” the German word for grain.
Stonehouse Distillery crafts a variety of spirits including Montana white and dark rum, cream liqueurs, sweet corn whiskey, and rye and wheat whiskey. The Winston Wheat Whiskey is made from wheat grown within a few miles from the Winston distillery by farming neighbors.
All the spirits are created in-house by grinding grain, mashing with water naturally filtered through local limestone deposits, fermenting in single-batches and then using a copper pot still handmade in Portugal specifically for use in the Stonehouse Distillery to extract the finished product.
23545 Montana Highway 200
Owned and operated by Carl and Christina Bock, Steel Toe was established in 2013. All of their current recipes are sugar-based liquors or “good whiskey” as Carl Bock refers to it. All Steel Toe Distillery products are distilled by Carl Bock and bottled on site. No coloring, additives, or artificial flavorings are added in the distilling process.
Specialty spirits include Uncle Carl’s Prohibition Whiskey which is crafted using selective moonshine techniques and flavored and colored in five-gallon charred oak casks from the Gibbs Brothers Cooperedge in Arkansas. Show Pony Gin, a tasting gin infused with Juniper berries and traditional botanicals is also available along with Settler’s Tea, a black tea-infused liqueur infused with mint and rose hips.
A tasting room at the the distillery, which is located on Highway 200 across from the Johnsrud Fishing Access is open daily and bottles are available for purchase.
128 West Alder Street
Having grown up in the Rattlesnake, Missoula’s northern neighborhood bisected by Rattlesnake Creek, brothers Sean and Dan Hogan named the craft distillery they opened in 2014 Rattlesnake Creek Distillers after their childhood stomping grounds.
Distilling Montana grains in small batches and controlling every aspect of the process from grain to glass, the Hogan brothers create 200 to 250 bottles of each product which are hand labeled and marked with batch and bottle numbers.
The distillery features a Crystal Springs Gin with water from the Crystal Springs south of Havre, a Circle Square Vodka named after Missoula’s historic downtown, and light, malt and bourbon whiskeys crafted from Montana grains.
129 W Front Street
After five generations of family agriculture, Montgomery Distillery produces top-notch, small-batch vodka, gin and whiskey. Visitors to the tasting room bar can sample the popular Go Gingerly cocktail made with Whyte Laydie gin, muddled ginger, basil and grapefruit.
Montgomery Distillery crafts spirits exclusively from Montana-grown grain, wheat and rye, using grains from the Montgomery family ranch near Lewistown, Montana.
Owners Ryan and Jenny Montgomery attended apprenticeships and courses in herbology and distilling around the word before opening the Montgomery Distillery in 2014. Their tasting room was recently ranked in Food & Wine Magazine’s 50 Best New Bars in America.
172 S 2nd Street
Will and Suzan Young opened Westslope Distillery in 2018 and started making spirits distilled in small batches using ingredients sourced from farms and fields throughout Montana. They also utilize locally-sourced ingredients in their tasting room.
Their signature Sweet Sting Honey Spirit is handcrafted in small batches using dark mead made from local Montana honey. The mead is sourced from Hidden Legend Winery in Victor, Montana. Another product, Lost Trail Rye Vodka is made with 100% Montana-grown Rye. It was the first rye vodka to be commercially distilled in the state of Montana.
A rum, gin, barrel-aged apple brandy, barrel-aged honey spirit & single malt American whiskey are also in production.
631 Woody Street
The Montana Distillery is owned by Mark Hlebichuk and Sharie McDonald. All Spirits are distilled on-site using Montana ingredients. The distillery originated in the Flathead area as Flathead Distillers until moving to Missoula. After renovating a building built in the early 1900’s, The Montana Distillery opened a new distilled spirits plant and tasting room in 2014 in the historic railroad district of Missoula.
A variety of award-winning spirits are distilled from Montana sugar beets. The Woody Street Premium Vodka is named for the street where the vodka is distilled and Fallen Dove Gin is made with six botanicals including a touch of juniper.
5066 Hoblitt Lane
Jesse Spaulding and Hannah Weinert, owners of FireRoot Spirits, are now distributing brandy and spirits from their new venture launched in 2017. With a focus on produce available near Florence, they planted their own apple orchard with cider and brandy variety apples they hope to use in creating award winning brandies.
All products at FireRoot Spirits are distilled from apples. An average of 25 pounds of apples goes into every bottle of FireRoot Gin. Another product of the distillery, Apple Jill, is an apple brandy blended with fresh cider and aged in new American oak. They also produce a vodka, Apple Jack, and a coffee liquor in collaboration with Hunter Bay Coffee in Lolo.
FireRoot Spirits are available for purchase in liquor stores across the state. They plan to do tastings and tours at their facility once a month or by appointment starting spring 2019.
6610 US Highway 12
Matt and Kasie Grunow are the latest in three generations of Lolo business owners to serve spirits to the small community of residents and tourists at Lolo Pass.
Matt’s grandfather started with the Road Runner Bar, and his parents Mike and Judy opened a grocery store, laundromat, liquor store, and the Lolo Creek Steak House.
Grunow opened the Lolo Creek distillery in 2017 just above the Lolo Creek Steak House.
The distillery and tasting room is situated on family property with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
The craft distilling philosophy at Lolo Creek is grain-to-bottle, utilizing Golden Triangle grains and local botanicals in the distilling process. Spirits include Honey Huckleberry Vodka, other varieties of plain and infused gin and vodka and a whiskey to be released in 2019. Local ingredients are used whenever possible in the distilling process and in the tasting room.
101 East Center Street, Suite 104
Vilya Spirits originally opened in 2009 as Ridge Distillery in Northwest Montana. Ridge’s first product, Silvertip American Dry Gin, became available in August of 2010, and by October both of the Ridge Distillery Absinthe offerings joined their gin.
Vilya Spirits Absinthe Verte and Absinthe Blanche have both won a variety of awards around the country. Villa Spirits still produces an award-winning Silvertip Dry Gin and a Wild Huckleberry Liqueur in addition to the absinthe offerings.
Vilya Spirits specializes in small batch, artisan beverages with an emphasis is on quality, cultivated rare alpine herbs.
8541 Montana Highway 35
Whistling Andy Distillery opened New Year’s Eve, 2010 in Bigfork, Montana. and have since created award-winning spirits in an array of styles and flavors using select local grains sourced from two local farms, local cherries, first cut cane sugar and locally-sourced botanicals whenever possible. Whistling Andy spirits have gained awards from tasting panels across the Pacific Northwest. The Pink Peppercorn & Pear Gin scored 92 Points from Wine Enthusiast Magazine and was rated one of the “Top 100 Spirits of 2017.” Other spirits include three different types of whiskey, two rums, two gins, vodka and a spirit called Hopshnop, which is distilled from craft beer.
2134 U.S. Highway 2
Whitefish Handcrafted Spirits offers spirits such as Orange Clove Rum, Montana Wheat Vodka, Botanical Gin, Huckleberry Liquor and Cranberry Moon (a cranberry juice whiskey). They produce a Rock Creek Vodka, a Highline Whiskey and a Contraband clear whiskey. They also craft an agave liquor. Unlike most distilleries, Whitefish Handcrafted Spirits serves a full menu in their tasting room.
10237 U.S. Highway 2 E
Nicolas and Victoria Lee opened Glacier Distilling Company in 2010. Taking a cue from Josephine Doody, a moonshiner who operated from her homestead on Harrison Creek in Glacier National Park during the early 1900s, the distillery first released an un-aged rye whiskey that could be produced and sold in a matter of months, instead of years.
Seven years later, Glacier Distilling Company’s North Fork whiskey was a Gold Medal winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the company now distills a wide variety of spirits including bourbon and barrel-aged malt and rye whiskey, rum, gin, brandies, grappa, herbal liqueurs, and even absinthe using local botanicals. Their Daughter of the Sun cherry liqueur features red cherries from Flathead Lake distilled, barrel-aged and blended with cherry juice, equaling over 15 pounds of cherries packed in each bottle.
The distillery and tasting room are located just outside of Glacier Park and West Glacier in Coram, Montana on U.S. Highway 2.
503 Railway Street
Opened in downtown Whitefish in 2016 by Lauren Oscilowski, a former employee at Glacier Distilling Company, Spotted Bear Spirits is named for the Spotted Bear Ranger District, part of the nearby Flathead National Forest Tasting room offerings include cocktails made with local and organic ingredients and bottle sales of small-batch craft spirits.
In addition to vodka, gin and agave, Spotted Bear Spirits produces a coffee liqueur using Montana Coffee Traders fair trade coffee and house cellos, versions of limoncello using sage, yarrow, basil, rosemary, juniper and wormwood among other Montana botanicals.
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