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Meet Kelly Lattig of Adventurous Stills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Lattig.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Kelly. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
Adventurous Stills is an award-winning small-batch craft distillery located in Tempe, AZ. All our Spirits start from natural grains or molasses and are wholly produced from grain to bottle by hand in our Distillery. Our Distillery is built, not bought – we hand-built our all-copper stills, mash tun, and virtually everything else you see. From milling the grains in-house, to tasting every batch as it comes off the still to ensure only the best parts of each run are bottled, we control every step of the process.

Founded by three Adventurous friends, our mission is to produce delicious spirits that add a dimension of flavors you wouldn’t expect – an adventurous take on things! With a 30-year background in homebrewing, we have some insights into the flavor nuances that can be gained from creative mashbills and are loving the additional degrees of freedom created by barrel aging.

We started building our equipment in the spring of 2015… Our business plan didn’t include outside investors, so all the capital to get started came out of our own pockets. Besides, we didn’t want to go buy the same sort of still any other craft distillery might have.

The freedom to make our equipment to fit the types of spirit we want to make has been invaluable. We learned to hand-form & TIG weld copper & stainless, to build our stills, mash tun, hot liquor tank, and eventually a 13′ vodka column. Our first year was spent honing our craft, improving the function of our equipment, and tweaking the mashbills & processes.

Since then, we’ve been laying up a lot of bourbon & rye whiskies and experimenting with other styles – like all-malt whiskey, buckwheat bourbon, specialty malts, etc. We’re modifying our grain mill at the moment to allow us to mill millet & other small grains – we can’t wait to get some of these into barrels!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
One of my favorite lines when giving tours is that “brewing & distilling is easy – people have been doing this stuff for thousands of years. What’s hard is doing it well and consistently!” We’ve certainly had our struggles – if we knew three years ago what we knew now, we’d have had a much easier road! But I wouldn’t trade any of these experiences for anything – learning things the hard way is a sure-fire way to cement your knowledge.

One of the biggest mistakes we made was to try to make whiskey with a ‘beer process’ (lautering off clear wort after mashing). As an old homebrewer, this is how I knew to do things. I didn’t know how incredibly hard it is to effectively lauter a corn or rye mash! We battled with that process for almost a year before we saw the light & converted our equipment to do on-grain ferments & distillation. Life is much better now!

Another thing I consistently tell other people who are interested in starting their own distillery is to start bigger than you think you need to. This is a volume business, and you’ll never be profitable with a 100 gallon still. Our stripping still is 600 gallons, and it won’t be long before we’ll need to make another one.

Please tell us about Adventurous Stills.
A few things:
– We are resolute in our commitment to make all our spirits from grain to bottle. We see many other craft distillers buying Grain Neutral Spirits to make their vodka and gin, and even some that simply re-label MGP whiskey as their own. We think this is antithetical to the idea of craft spirits, and besides – why bother to be a distillery unless you’re going to distill stuff?!

– Similarly, we don’t add anything to our spirits that doesn’t come from the grain, the yeast, or the barrel.

– Interesting whiskey is what we strive to make. Our other spirits are good & interesting, but the degrees of freedom in whiskey are so much larger than in other styles.

– As I mentioned before, I only know of a couple of other distilleries that have built anywhere near as much of their hardware as we have. The ability to make & modify our equipment to achieve the flavors we’re looking for is really important.

– We’re all adventurous spirits, and our product names & bottle images reflect outdoor adventure spots throughout Arizona.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I was one of those super annoying kids who took everything apart (and only sometimes was able to get them back together & working again). My folks eventually got me a box of things I was allowed to experiment with (destroy) that was regularly replenished with trips to garage sales, etc. I learned to gas weld when I was eleven (not well, but it was a start), and built a go-cart mostly from scratch as practice. Being mechanically handy is super-useful in a distillery!

A huge component of success in this business (and probably any start-up, really) is a strong work ethic. I had a paper route for a couple of years when I was eleven and then did just about every crappy job you can imagine while in high school & during college. I think that taught me that no job is too nasty, too dull, or too dangerous if it gets you where you need to go.

Pricing:

  • Peralta Bourbon – $45
  • Fossil Creek Whiskey – $35
  • Papago Dark Rum – $32

Contact Info:

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