Whiskey to flow from High West’s new distillery
December 12, 2014
To David Perkins, proprietor of High West Distillery, whiskey is more than simply a stiff drink enjoyed by many to calm the nerves after a long day. To him, whiskey is the product of complicated and intriguing science — one that presents him with the challenge of finding the right combinations to make the perfect liquors.
Perkins’ laboratory is about to become much larger, as whiskey production is set to begin next week at High West’s new distillery in Wanship. The 30,000 square-foot distillery houses four 1,500-gallon stills. In comparison, High West’s location at 703 Park Ave. has one 250-gallon still.
If all goes well, that means one thing: Enough whiskey will be flowing to warm the heart of any Old West cowboy.
"If Providence shines on us," Perkins said, "hopefully we can be making 25 times as much whiskey five years from now. I mean, we wouldn’t be able to do it on Day 1. It takes a lot of money. But that would make about 6,000 barrels a year."
The new distillery, which has been in the works for nearly three years, will allow High West to meet the high demand for its whiskey, which is sold in 44 states, Perkins said. But the hope is to also create an attraction for visitors.
High West is partnering with Blue Sky Ranch, which is located next to the distillery, to provide an experience that will include horseback riding, skeet shooting and hiking, among other activities. The ranch houses a wellness center, a corporate retreat center and a boutique hotel — all of which will also be available to visitors.
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At the center of the experience will be the whiskey. Tours showing off the process of making whiskey will be a key attraction, and a restaurant will serve food that pairs well with the liquor.
"This will be a real cultural experience," Perkins said, adding that the plan is to open to visitors next July. "There is a lot here, and the idea is to have an amazing, world-class destination for people to come visit. It should be one of the 10 most beautiful distilleries in the world. We’d be shocked if people didn’t consider it that way. It’s just a beautiful setting. It’s going to be a place on everybody’s must-see list when people come to town."
The experience High West is hoping to create would be its latest contribution to the long heritage of whiskey in the West. Knowing the distillery is so close to writing a new chapter of that history has Perkins eagerly awaiting the moment whiskey first fills its stills in Wanship.
"We all know that Park City had lots of saloons," he said. "I don’t think anybody in the country struggles with the fact there was a lot of whiskey out West. It has such a great history, with so many stories that are all about whiskey. You’re drinking history and that’s a lot of fun for us."
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