That’s the spirit, Park City: another distillery preparing to open
November 24, 2009
The founder of Club Lespri wants to start distilling vodka at the Prospector site, saying there is lots of potential for growth in an industry that he says resembles in some ways the microbrewery market of years ago.
Lespri Spirits would be the third recent entry into the local alcohol market, and it could expand Park City’s reputation as an imbibing place in a state that many outsiders perceive as being filled with teetotalers.
Club Lespri has filed an application at City Hall to start the distillery, and the Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss the idea for the first time on Dec. 9. The panel is set to hold a hearing and possibly vote on the matter that day.
Scott Rogers, the Club Lespri founder, said he wants the product to be "super premium botanical vodkas." According to his description, Lespri Spirits will purchase a neutral-grain spirit and then distill the spirit into vodka at the Sidewinder Drive restaurant-spa-health club.
"The smaller the still, the more hands on, the better product you’ll get," Rogers said, anticipating the Lespri Spirits line of vodkas will be "far superior" to mass-produced vodka.
He said Club Lespri expects to test up to 12 recipes of vodka before deciding on five or six to produce. Rogers said the alcohols will be "vapor-infused vodka," but he does not consider them to be flavored vodkas. Club Lespri hired consultants to assist with the distillery, he said.
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Rogers wants to start making the vodka this winter and begin selling the product by the end of the ski season, which usually is finished by the middle of April. If Club Lespri obtains the necessary permits, Rogers has ideas to distribute the vodkas to bars and restaurants throughout Utah and operate a tasting room at the Sidewinder Drive site. He also wants to sell the Lespri Spirits line in state liquor stores and at the distillery itself.
Club Lespri is seeking state and federal permits to operate the distillery as it seeks an approval from City Hall. Rogers said he hopes the permits are granted by the end of 2009.
The talks about Lespri Spirits will be held shortly after the opening of High West Distillery, which makes whiskey and vodka, in a historic property in Old Town. High West, grander in scale than Lespri Spirits, is leading the new group of startups. Meanwhile, a Summit Park man and his fiancee plan to open a small brewery on Woodbine Way and start selling the Shades of Pale line of beers by early 2010.
Park City has for generations been seen as out of step with the state’s conservative views of alcohol, attracting drinkers starting in the early days of the silver-mining industry even as others in the state were forbidden to imbibe. The reputation has continued to the modern era as people from elsewhere in the U.S. with more liberal alcohol laws have moved to the city.