On the horizon in 2018 is the upcoming Holystone Distillery. Helming this ship are co-owners Barbie Busch DeShazo, Michael DeShazo and Ethan Miller. Applying a nautical nuance to their spirit-making endeavors, Holystone is sure to make for a high-quality and one-of-a-kind addition to our local-distillery landscape in the coming year.
SLUG: Mike and Barbie, what inspired you to become a part of this endeavor? What’s your experience and affinity for liquor like?
Mike: Barbie and I had this spark of an idea about eight years ago. We both have a love of fine spirits, wine, etc. and wanted to do something that reflected our passion for craft and great alcohol. We also love to travel and wanted to bring that into the equation, along with our love of the sea. Barbie found the right people to help us get our idea off the ground and through those connections, we met Ethan. As for our affinities, I am a connoisseur of scotch but also love tequila, mezcal and Spanish brandy—as well as wine, especially Italian reds. Barbie likes all of that but really loves Calvados and Cava. We want our passion for fine spirits to show in our product and want to share that passion with others.
SLUG: Ethan, talk a little bit about your journey as a distiller. Where did you start, and how have you grown?
Ethan: After leaving my profession as an optician, I got my start at High West Distillery several years ago as a whiskey blender. I then moved to Portland and helped run New Deal Distillery as a distiller and production lead. When returning to Utah, I helped start Dented Brick Distillery as the Head Distiller. Each of these experiences contributed to my growth in the industry and as an individual in one way or another. I am excited and pleased to be starting Holystone Distilling as Co-owner and Head Distiller. Distilling has become a medium of choice for my art and self-expression. Holystone is an opportunity for me to create this art in a new way and with less limitations.
SLUG: How did you find each other in the context of creating this business/distillery?
Mike: Barbie made some serendipitous connections in the world of brewing in Salt Lake City who introduced us to Ethan. After meeting him, it was an easy decision to go into business together, and we knew the time was now.
SLUG: What kinds of spirits do you have in the works for Holystone? What kind of spirit innovation, historical notes or industry savviness will they suggest?
Holystone: Bring an extra pair of socks! We will be making some innovative spirits and delivering a new kind of distillery experience. From our custom equipment to our unique recipes, we will be blazing some new trails … At Holystone, we have reliable quality sources lined up for raw materials. We will have a strong focus on new, rare whiskies, among other spirits, and plan to be on the forefront for high-quality American whiskey for years to come … It’ll be a few years before you get to taste what we mean by that.
SLUG: Holystone seems to be a Book of Mormon reference, perhaps. Given that the LDS faith is predominant in Utah, what kinds of Utah elements will you represent in your products? Any terroir ingredients in any spirits that you have in the works?
Holystone: Haha, lot of people ask that. Actually, “Holystone” is a nautical reference. It refers to the stones used to polish the decks of wooden ships. Legend has it, the first ones were gathered from defunct churches in England, hence the name. The big ones are also called “bibles” and the small ones are called “prayer books”. From our website: “Holystoning is synonymous with the reverence sailors feel for their ships, their humility before the sea, their dedication to a craft, and their strong work ethic necessary for success. These four qualities also represent the ethos of Holystone Distilling … reverence for the history and process of distilling spirits, humility before our customers, dedication to the craft, and a strong work ethic devoted to bringing the best product possible to the market, and can be summarized by the spirit of Bravo Zulu … Well Done.”
SLUG: What’s the timeline to get up and going?
Holystone: Opening a distillery involves a lot of planning, patience, and hoop-jumping, but we expect to be open in 2018.
SLUG: Though it’s early in the game, what triumphs have you experienced so far? What obstacles have you faced/are you facing?
Ethan: Our triumphs include a clear vision from the beginning. Barbie, Mike and I have been on the same page from day one and plan to apply that clarity of vision throughout the conception and existence of Holystone Distilling.
SLUG: Will you please nerd out on what you have planned in the way of the facility/still(s)?
Holystone: I have been working with still builders and others to create a new still that has capabilities unlike any other still I’ve seen before … As far as the facility, we plan to provide an environment and experience that is unlikely to be paralleled elsewhere.
SLUG: Any packaging designs in the works yet? If so, what can you say about them?
Holystone: Yes … Look at the logo for a clue … Watch for us.
SLUG: Down the line, to what are you aspiring with this distillery? What are the main reasons Utahns should be excited about Holystone?
Holystone: We want our customers to have a unique experience at our distillery. For our liquor, we will concentrate on quality over quantity and will be focused on all things local. We intend to source locally when possible and support our local market ahead of everything else. We also intend to include a charitable aspect to our business through the support of local charities.
Stay tuned to holystonedistilling.com for updates about the distillery and their eventual opening.