Evolve Your Distillery for Success: Saint Lawrence Spirits
There’s been a boom in distilling over the past decade with over 1,800 craft distilleries now operating in the United States. With such a competitive market, how can distilleries continue to cultivate staying power and growth? In this industry, one must embrace change in order to find success – and that’s truer now than ever before. In the fiercely competitive landscape of the craft spirits world, distilleries must find a way to become – and remain – powerhouses of the industry. One distillery has made sure to do just that.
Saint Lawrence Spirits, out of Clayton, New York, is a family-owned distillery that dove headfirst into the business. Thanks to their consistent commitment to innovation and change, Saint Lawrence Spirits is making sure they’ll be around for the long haul.
From Farm to Still
Saint Lawrence Spirits owners, retired Army Veteran Jody Garrett and his wife, Doreen Garrett, came to the spirits industry in a fascinating manner. It started in 2006 when the couple purchased Lucky Star Ranch in Chaumont, New York.
After owning the ranch for a number of years, Doreen stated, “We were looking for something to help make the 2,000-acre ranch property sustainable into the future and looked at many options.”
After attending a course at Cornell University focused on cultivating grapes for a winery, they realized that the odds were against them. Setting aside their idea of pursuing winemaking in northern New York, they began exploring alternatives.
While visiting a handful of wineries in the Finger Lakes region of the state, they noticed one winery was also making gin. Because their Ranch already boasted an abundance of wild juniper – a main ingredient for making gin – they quickly inquired about the process. At that moment, a new dream was born.
Back to School
After researching where to gain education on the distillation process and distilling business, Doreen and Jody came across Moonshine University. They immediately signed up for their half-day Gin Making Course, which has since been expanded into a full, 3-Day Botanical Spirits Workshop.
Their excitement over the course prompted Jody’s son, Bill, to take the same class soon after. Later, the father and son duo would together attend the 5-Day Distiller Course (which now expands 6 days), the Age-ucation: Barrel Aging Workshop, as well as the University’s Absinthe Workshop, which has now been integrated into the 3-Day Botanical Spirits Workshop.
The Beginnings of Successful Distillery
With their heads teaming with newfound knowledge and determination, the Garrett family opened Saint Lawrence Spirits in August 2016. They initially produced and sold vodka, gin, and absinthe, while waiting for their whiskey and Bourbon to perfectly age in new 53-gallon oak barrels.
With a strong marketing design and plan, the couple introduced their spirits regionally with great success. To take their business to the next level, they opened the Saint Lawrence Spirits Downtown Tasting Room just one month later over Labor Day weekend.
Continuing the Evolution
Saint Lawrence Spirits’ success continues because they are constantly looking to the future, pushing their ventures forward to new and better heights.
In 2017, the Garrett’s opened the Saint Lawrence Spirits Château, a fine dining, farm-to-table restaurant located on the same property as the distillery.
In May 2018, they continued this growth by opening their gorgeous boutique hotel, The Château, making their home in the historically recognized Fairview Manor, built in 1937. Boasting breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence River, it provides just one more reason to visit.
The Saint Lawrence Spirits family goes full circle in their endeavor to fulfill their “Still-to-Grill” concept. Grains used to create spirits are grown at Lucky Star Ranch. The spent mash is then returned to the Ranch where it is used to feed 40+ heads of Black Angus cattle daily. The all-natural beef provided then becomes the next exquisite dish at the Château, or is sold to members of the community.
From Dream to “Distillery of the Year”
From their humble beginnings with vodka, gin, and absinthe, the Saint Lawrence Spirits collection now offers 16 award-winning spirits, with a new whiskey line soon to make an appearance.
Their story and the breadth of their business development demonstrate how perseverance and dedication to the craft, as well as consistent evolution of one’s brand, can take you from simply having a dream in Moonshine University’s classroom to becoming New York State’s “2019 Distillery of the Year.”
Times are tough for craft distillers everywhere – but the truth is there will always be challenges. Even in the face of this latest challenge, Saint Lawrence Spirits continuously proves how well they can adapt, survive, and thrive despite them. Along with continuing to produce award-winning spirits, the distillery is also doing its part to make hand sanitizer. Driven by passion and supported by their community, there is no doubt that Saint Lawrence Spirits will make it through.
Written by Danielle Kellar, Events & Marketing Coordinator, Saint Lawrence Spirits.