Fraser’s first distillery nears finish
Construction is nearing completion on Grand County’s newest distillery, The Fraser Still, months after ground broke on the site in late August. The distillery, owned by Fraser residents Barry and Debbie Young, is expected to open in September with its own brands of whiskey, gin and vodka.
“I’m biased of course, but I think it’s going to be stunning,” said Barry Young. “The first big piece of equipment was delivered a couple weeks ago, and the rest of the distillery equipment should be arriving in early to mid-July. The kitchen should go in in August, and I think everything will come together for a September opening.”
The distillery, operating under the Fraser Valley Distilling label, will debut with two different types of gin, vodka and a blended whiskey. There will be, as Young describes, a very traditional gin as well as one with a heavier citrus influence. There will also be a traditional corn based vodka.
But whiskey will serve as the distillery’s signature spirit, though that comes with some issues. Legally, the Young family isn’t allowed to distill until they’re licensed, and with the barrel aging process taking years we probably won’t see any original Fraser Valley Distilling whiskeys for the next couple years.
“This is an issue that all new distilleries that want to sell whiskey face,” said Young. “You can either wait a couple years or serve someone else’s. The thing about being in the mountains is that people love to drink whiskey. So we wanted another whiskey, but we didn’t want to just buy it and serve someone else’s so we decided to do a blend.”
The Youngs decided to split the difference. As the distillery is getting started, they intend to produce a single malt whiskey using an accelerated aging technique. They’ll then blend their own product with rye and bourbons purchased from the MGP Distillery in Indiana.
In the meantime, Fraser Valley Distilling will be barrel aging their own single-malt, rye and bourbon which will be phased in over the coming years. They get their barrels from the Independent Stave Company out of Missouri.
At its peak the distillery can produce two-to-three barrels of whiskey a week (about 1,000 bottles), as well as another 500 bottles of vodka or gin each week. Once the distillery has started cranking out bottles, you’ll likely be able to find them in liquor stores around the county.
“I would hope that we would find some opportunities to sell our vodka and gin commercially by October or so,” said Young. “The whiskey will probably take a little longer, and we might have our blend for sale by Christmas.”
The building itself will resemble a whiskey cask, with gray metal along the bottom, a light colored wood around the middle and charred wood on the top. The inside will consist of the tasting room, distillery, and barrel storage room finished with a contemporary industrial look with open ceilings and metal beams. There will also be an eight by five foot window behind the bar where customers can look through and see employees working in the distillery.
“We’re actually going to burn strips of oak to look like the inside of the whiskey barrel, and that’s going to be on the front of the bar,” said Young. “We want the place to scream whiskey.”
The distillery will also include a kitchen where patrons can order snacks like charcuterie, cheese plates and popcorn. Over time a more significant menu featuring soups, salads, sandwiches and dinner entrées will be added. The Fraser Still will also have its own fermentation program, making its own sauerkraut, pickles and kimchi.
“We’ve been working on this for two and a half years,” said Young. “So all we have to do now is see what happens when we open. We’re unbelievably excited about what’s going on.”
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