Archive for April, 2017


Sparkling Rose’ Time!

Gulch Distillers

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There’s a hidden gem, tucked away in the side streets of Helena. No, it isn’t an undiscovered gold mine, but it’s close. Gulch Distillers is one of the most fascinating businesses I’ve visited here in Helena.

Starting its life as Triple Divide Spirits in 2012, the distillery was purchased in 2015, and rebranded as the Gulch Distillers in 2016. Distillers Steffen Rasile and Tyrrell Hibbard pursued their dream of distilling in college, and even studied abroad in Edenborough, Scotland.

The former Triple Divide Spirits is the first distillery in Montana history to have been sold as a complete package. At the time of sale, the permits, equipment, location, and building were already in place, and the addition of a still purchased by the two young entrepreneurs, the scene was complete to move forward towards distilling glory.

Listening to Steffen and Tyrrell talk about their mission and spirits was a refreshing experience, in a world that’s so scripted. One of the main missions of Gulch Distillers is to show Montanans that cocktails don’t have to be a fancy affair. Cocktails can be paired with everyday meals, much like wine and even beer.

Looking at the cocktail menu, it became clear to me that it wasn’t just a menu, but a cookbook with recipes. Some recipes included lavender, some included orange peels, and herbs. Most of the herbs are grown on site, so that Steffen and Tyrrell can grow them to their exact specifications.

Gulch Distillers prides itself on being a “Montana Made” company. Most their ingredients are sourced from the state of Montana, which include barley, wheat, the use of local seed vendors, and a sustainable maltster company close to Great Falls, called “Malteurop.” When the spirits are finished, they are bottled on site, by hand. Even the used mash is sent to Montana farmers for their pigs.

The most unique palate experience I had at Gulch Distillers was their Burrone Fernet. Fernet is a traditional herbal digestif of Italy, and is the most aromatic beverage, alcoholic or not, that I have ever experienced. The sensation of smelling the Burrone Fernet is strongly reminiscent of cooking curry, and reminded me of the aromas I smelled on a long-ago visit to India.

The mint used in this spirit is grown locally, mostly by Tyrrell, himself. It smells of cardamom, eucalyptus, thyme, and anise seed. Fernet in the states often made with an extra sweetness, Steffen and Tyrrell’s Fernet is made for mixed drinks and is not sweet.

The spirit at Gulch Distillers that surprised and delighted me was the Triple Divide Vodka. The Triple Divide Vodka is a delicious small batch blend of Montana wheat, and malted barley. Normally, I have a hard time distinguishing vodka from nail polish remover, but I was blown away by Triple Divide Vodka. It carries aromas of white lilies, lavender, apricots, and even candied grapes. Across the palate, it is smooth, and almost rounded. Gulch Distiller’s spirits may be made for blending, but this vodka is so phenomenal, it stands on its own.

Steffen and Tyrrell are working to make cocktails more approachable, and offer a once a month class on a wide variety of cocktail topics.

A few days after this tasting, I attended one of Gulch Distiller’s cocktail classes, titled, “Shake & Stirred and Cola Secret.” A full bar of students learned about many of the different cocktails offered at Gulch Distillers. We learned about why a cocktail is stirred or shaken, and how ingredients are incorporated into the drinks. Towards the end of the class, there was an opportunity for hands on experience, for those brave enough to try making their own cocktail.

My time spent at Gulch Distillers was fascinating. It may be speak-easy small, but run by two of the most enthusiastic young men on the gulch, you can’t go wrong with any of their spirits. This gem on the gulch is worth a stop in, and a sip.

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