By Rachael Rees

The Bulletin

To keep up with its continuous growth, Oregon Spirit Distillers in Bend has purchased a new location that will triple its size and allow the distillery to increase production.

“In the past five years, we’ve been in a constant push to always grow, and this is just the next step,” said Brad Irwin, owner of Oregon Spirit Distillers.

Year-over-year, Irwin said, he has seen sales increases of 25 percent for bourbon, 12 percent for vodka and 20 percent for genever, a variation of gin.

“Every barrel we make, we sell,” he said. “(The new facility) will allow us to increase production 75 percent.”

Oregon Spirit Distillers is one of 69 distilleries in the state’s growing craft spirits industry. From 2009 to 2013, distribution of cases of Oregon-made spirits increased 2.3 percent, from 447,252 cases to 457,720, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Sales at Oregon distillery outlets increased from $951,543 in 2009 to $2.6 million in 2013, according to the agency. The state has also had growth in the number of distillery retail outlets, said Christie Scott, OLCC public affairs specialist.

“More distillers are selling their own products from their own tasting rooms,” she said.

Irwin said his distillery’s future home at 740 N.E. First St., currently being leased by the Bend Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore, cost $600,000. He expects the entire expansion to cost about $1 million and hopes to be in the new location by spring.

The three-building complex totals 13,000 square feet. Plans for the project include expanding the tasting room fivefold, to about 2,500 square feet, adding a full-service, on-premise bar, as well as a kitchen so the distillery can offer snacks.

“This is a huge commitment that we sort of got forced into. We’re out of space here,” he said, referring to the distillery on Northeast Butler Market Road near Northeast Fourth Street.

Irwin said he needs more space for barrel storage. He has more than 300 barrels now and plans to add 100 more for his whiskey production in the next year.

He said he’s constantly reinvesting in the company to build his six brands: a vodka, bourbon whiskey, spiced rum, absinthe, genever and as of Saturday, a new dry gin. Next month he expects to release a wheat whiskey made from Oregon grain. And next year he plans to release a rye whiskey, which will be the last major addition to the Oregon Spirit Distillers product line.

“Then our focus will be on continuing to perfect those products and just grow those brands,” he said.

Oregon Spirit Distillers has won a number of awards over the past year, including a silver medal at the World Spirit Competition for its Wild Card Absinthe, which has captured the attention of national distributors. The distillery sells its products in Northern California, Washington, Idaho and Montana, and Irwin expects his spirits to be on shelves in Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada by fall.

— Reporter: 541-617-7818,