The farther you get from Coram the harder it gets to find Glacier Distilling Co. spirits, but that’s exactly how the owners want it.
“We want to service our area first. We want to keep it here and keep it local. There are very few products in the world where you have to go to the place it’s made to get it,” said Nic Lee, an owner and lead distiller of Glacier Distilling. “One of the things we like is that people have to come to this area, which inspires a lot of the flavors and what we do. It just adds to the product.”
It was a snowstorm that inspired the trained chemist from North Carolina to start distilling. Sitting around a fire during the blizzard and drinking whiskey with friends, they wondered if Armageddon did come, where would they get their whiskey. So Lee started studying distilling and it “snowballed into too big of a thing to stop.”
After getting a permit at the end of 2010, they started production in the red Whiskey Barn in 2011. Glacier Distilling’s first spirit was Glacier Dew, an unaged white whiskey based on the recipe used by Josephine Doody, who reportedly ran a successful moonshine business inside Glacier National Park during the 1920s.
They now have four staple whiskeys: Glacier Dew, North Fork, Bad Rock Rye and Wheatfish. This summer the crew plans to add Fireweed, a bourbon blended with cherry brandy made from Flathead cherries. Glacier Distilling also offers seasonal fruit brandies.
All of the distillery’s products can be enjoyed around a campfire, Lee noted.
“We go by the philosophy we make what we like to drink and we like to go outside and ski or raft and camp and drink whiskey after,” he said.
Since 2011, Glacier Distilling has nearly doubled its production each year and should be producing 2,000 cases, or 24,000 bottles next year. That would be about the distillery’s limit at its current size and business philosophy, and that’s fine with Lee.
He attributes the distillery’s success to not only the quality of the handcrafted spirits but also because people know that it was made by somebody who is passionate about what he does.
“There are so many choices now. People have more choices now than they have ever had and unless you have a personal connection with a product it’s hard to be loyal or attached to it,” Lee commented.
While people are loyal to the products he distills, Lee is also loyal to the people who come to the barn to taste the spirits and the area that inspires so much of what he does.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Lee said when asked about the distillery’s future. “We see ourselves here with a barrel room as packed as we can pack it and maybe some more seats on the deck and a bigger variety of products ... My real dream is to have so many barrels stuffed in here that it will leave a legacy and a hundred years from now people will still be opening barrels.”
Glacier Distilling Co. is located 10327 U.S. 2 E. in Coram. For more information go to glacierdistilling.com.