Waterpocket Distillery: Crafting Booze with History

Our good friends over at Waterpocket Distillery, Julia and Alan Scott, are still rummaging through the ancient texts and sweating (at the FDA-approved levels) over their gorgeous, custom-made German-pot stills to bring you some of that “new new” from the “old old.” If you think I’m exaggerating, consider that these guys have been and are currently renowned for their Long Lost line, which prides itself on reviving centuries-old liqueur recipes from the Old World, so our modern palates have the chance to know just what we’ve been missing all this time.

Before I start dishing the dirt on what they’ve rediscovered and plan on sharing with the good people of Utah, I’d like to give you a taste of what kind of minds take the time to produce drinks of this caliber. If you’ve ever seen Nathan Drake poring over old maps and star charts to decipher where Sir Francis Drake hid his treasure, or watched Indiana Jones use his whip-smarts to find the Ark of the Covenant, then you probably have a pretty good idea of what it is the Scotts do for a living. They’re just looking for really good booze in place of deadly Abrahamic relics.

Their knowledge ranges from the history of the Danziger Mennonites, as the unsung master distillers they are, to the interesting ways in which the people of Milan used mint in their alcohol. The Scotts are aware of the challenges inherent in starting a business that sells products that take years to produce, along with the various ways that people interpret the word “craft” depending on what type of alcohol you are producing—whether it’s wine, beer or spirits. On top of that, they query what kind of people are curious, adventurous types when it comes to drinking and what that means for a distillery that makes curious, adventurous liqueurs. I definitely stayed longer than I anticipated, but it’s contagious to be around people who are just so damn curious about everything.


The Prodigal Son of Utah Liquors

Waterpocket's Long Lost series revives forgotten liquor practices and recipes.
Photo: @clancycoop

Lucky for us, their curiosity finds its way into a beautiful bottle of a craft-made spirit. Their Milanese Mint? This is named for the inspiration behind their latest in the Long Lost line they’re calling “Minthe” after the nymph who was transformed into the mint plant because she had the misfortune of falling in love with Hades. With no added sugar in the final product, it has the kind of bite you’d expect from an underworld love affair. But mixologists across the city will love the control it gives them in crafting something with its peppermint, myrrh and cardamom profile while still leaving room for other ingredients to provide the balancing of sweetness.

If you’ve tasted the Notom Amaro in their Toadstool line, then you may be interested in the second generation, the Pennellen Amaro No. 2. But if the Notom tastes like a cozy Bavarian winter, the Pennellen is branching off to warmer, brighter regions of the palate. It’s a lighter-bodied spirit with a warm, smoked-citrus front and spice notes throughout. It’s perfect for sipping whether you’re catching up with friends Downtown or settling up next to the fire in the mountains.

Another sipper you may have already noticed at the store or at the bar is the classic, Eastern-style Kümmel they’re calling the Snow Angel. This little number swirls the botanical flavors of fennel and anise around the essential earthiness of caraway with a blend of sweet, citric notes to create something that’ll make you do a double take. A popular, eclectic addition to the bar shelves around town, it’s certainly cheaper than a plane ticket to the onion domes of St. Petersburg without compromising on any of the flavor.


Rave Reviews for Waterpocket

The sparkling presses at Waterpocket Distilling
Photo: @clancycoop

Those Danziger Mennonites are the inspiration behind the next evolution of the Long Lost brand. The Maenad, translating literally to the “raving ones,” is named after the Dionysian priestesses. These ladies didn’t become followers of Dionysus for the small talk—they were there for the epiphanies, divine madness and to dance to the threshold of ecstasy. This gin alternative won’t be available until late spring/summer of 2020, but the juniper, wormwood, nutmeg and cinnamon blend—with no added sugar, similar to the Minthe—is definitely something to keep your eye out for.

Waterpocket is working on a lot more than what we even have time to talk about here, and if any of their projects sound even remotely interesting, I would highly recommend checking out their beautiful website at waterpocket.co, where you can book a tasting session or a tour of their facility here in the valley and get to speak to the duo yourselves. Be sure to visit their booth at SLUG Mag’s Boo!stillery on Friday, Oct. 18, at The Union Event Center. If you’re trying the booze at your house, look for their distinctive bottle design at the liquor store. Alternatively, the cocktail lounges we’re lucky enough to have sprinkled around the city love the flavors these guys are trying out. Ask your bartender what they have from Waterpocket Distillery and watch the pros get creative. So, whatever your style, get out there and “Open Wild.”


More on SLUGMag.com:

Eaux of Olde: Waterpocket’s Eau de Mélisse
Waterpocket Distillery: Open Wild and Explore