A third craft distillery, Cascade Alchemy LLC, may open its doors in the Bend area, making liquor along with Bendistillery and Oregon Spirit Distillers.
Cascade Alchemy has applied for a distillery license with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. It has rented a building in northeast Bend, but the owners are waiting for approval before they invest additional money.
“We are waiting to hear back from the TTB and OLCC,” said Tyler Fradet, co-owner of Cascade Alchemy. “There's a whole lot up in the air right now.”
Currently, he said the company's still is sitting in the building on Brinson Boulevard that will house the distillery, if it's approved.
As soon as he gets the nod, Fradet said he will bring the building up to code. Then, he said, the company will start ordering the bottling line and purchasing the necessary equipment to make vodka, gin and whiskey, with more to come later.
Craft distilling in Oregon has been increasing, although not as fast as craft brewing. The state is home to nearly 50 distilleries, according to the OLCC website, and last year they generated $53 million in annual sales.
Jim Dodge, purchasing coordinator for the OLCC, said Oregon is a leader in craft distilling. “It has gained a lot of momentum over the past 10-12 years,” Dodge said. “There's at least four more (distilleries) that open each year.”
Steve McCarthy, owner of Portland-based Clear Creek Distillery, was the first to start distilling in Oregon in 1985. He was instrumental in instigating legislation that allowed small distilleries to sell directly to the public.
McCarthy gave three pieces of advice to entrepreneurs entering the distillery market: Don't quit your day job, start slow and have money.
Instead of spending a lot money at the beginning, he said, wait for the company to grow on its own. Once people start buying your spirits, then increase production.
“Start small and stay small until the marketplace tells you to grow,” he said.
He also said many people decide to start a distillery with a large sum of cash, but don't have enough to support it as it takes off.
“I've been doing this 28 years,” he said. “We're now profitable and growing, but there were times when it wasn't a sure thing.”