High West Distillery announced Thursday it would be moving its main Salt Lake City distillery, creating a new partnership with Blue Sky Ranch in Wanship. The popular whiskey producer High West will build a new distillery, warehouse and restaurant on the ranch property.
With hopes to create a world-class whiskey distillery, Mike Phillips, owner of Blue Sky Ranch, and David Perkins, owner of High West, both said that the facilities will be like something visitors in Napa Valley might expect, that the distillery will be a draw for whiskey lovers.
"We've wanted to do something for two years now," Perkins said. "We saw it coming, that we would need to move."
High West started in Park City in 2007 as a small whiskey label, but has since gone on to win international competitions for its liquors.
"The new distillery will allow us the room we need, but it will also let us create the ultimate Utah visitor experience," he added. "We'll have as beautiful a distillery as anything in Kentucky or Scotland or the wineries in Napa Valley. We want to be a world-class whiskey distillery on the world stage."
The planned distillery is roughly 25,000 square feet, a massive increase from the current 5,000 square foot space in Salt Lake City. Perkins said the new space will allow High West to create, age and ship from a single location.
Blue Sky Ranch, which currently offers recreational guide services, covers 3,300 acres and has a Lookout Point with views of Rockport Reservoir and the Uinta Mountains. The property hosts corporate groups and parties as well as recreational activities and Phillips will build a lodging property complete with a wellness center, conference center and cabins.
"We felt the cabins were more appropriate for our clients," Phillips said. "It is less hotel, and more of a ranch experience."
And that is why Phillips thought High West would be a smart partnership, adding to the rustic feel he was aiming for.
Before Perkins and Phillips decided to partner, they researched, starting with tours in Napa and Scotland to see what was possible for the ranch and what amenities would need to be included. In Soctland alone, the two visited 14 distilleries, testing 54 scotch varieties in three days.
"We were like, 'Let's look at these international destinations and see what they do,'" Phillips said. "We studied the architecture, the guest services. We looked at the experience to see if it was something we could duplicate here."
The High West distillery will include a new restaurant, the Whiskey Kitchen, which will feature foods to pair with High West products.
Phillips said the project is currently in the bidding phase, and he expected that distillery construction would begin in the next six to eight weeks. The distillery and lodging property, which will have 60 rooms in both lodge and cabin accommodations, are scheduled to be completed in Fall 2013.