Woodstone Creek, Cincinnati, OH
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Ohio's first microdistillery is a Cincinnati family business. Don Outterson and his wife, Linda, have been working quietly at a production facility in Evanston. In 2001, Don added a custom designed potstill to their urban winery, Woodstone Creek, to become the first ever such licensed operation in Ohio. Don does the distilling and winemaking. Wife, Linda, runs the tasting room, designs labels and the website. Both do whatever it takes to keep the operation going without employees.
Don started using his own potstilled brandy in port and dessert wines for Woodstone's on-site tasting room. Encouraged by sales and a few medals (Taster's Guild, Finger Lakes and Indy International), Don started the year-long legal process to introduce his first commercial spirit, Cincinnati Vodka. As the first operation of it's type, Woodstone repeatedly faced roadblocks from regulatory agencies. The state's infrastructure and supporting paperwork had to evolve with every step in the bureaucratic system. Trailblazing as Ohio's first microdistillery was daunting, sometimes nearly impossible.
Don started his distillation enterprise making 5-grain bourbon and single malt whisky which will age while other products make their debut. Other planned products include blended whisky, dark rum, gin and a distilled beer specialty product. The vodka began distribution to Cincinnati state stores this past October. The pair needed the vodka to produce income because the bourbon and whisky may take several more years to mature. Woodstone's website shows the labels of the other spirits: http://www.woodstonecreek.com.
After graduating from Siebel Institute of Technology, Chicago, Don Outterson worked all over the country as a certified brewmaster. At the Tap & Growler in Chicago, he counted Tony Bennet in his fan club. He served an apprenticeship in English ales, later traveling to Australia. He's won gold, silver and bronze at Great American Beer Festival, written numerous articles, reviewed books and conducted seminars at craft-brewing tradeshows nationwide. Don came to Cincinnati in '88 to open the city's first brewpub, Wallaby Bob's, for the original developers of Forest Fair Mall (now Cincinnati Mills).
By mid-1989, Don had met a westside lady. He committed to settling down in Cincy and began a consulting business for start-up brewpubs and microbreweries. After helping 53 brewpubs get started, Don expanded his consulting business to include wineries and distilleries. He built a pilot plant to demonstrate equipment for his clients, some traveling to Cincinnati for instruction. The teaching facility required permits for actual production. By the end of '99, the pilot plant had become a fully operational winery.
Certain of microdistillation as the next beverage trend, Don petitioned for a production license to operate his own still. Officially, a microdistillery produces less than 500 barrels of spirit a year. At Outterson's level, that translates to one barrel every three weeks (maybe), well within the legal criteria. Don hopes to add a brewery operation to the mix in the future. In the meantime, industry insiders are constantly trying to buy Woodstone's bourbon and whisky inventory, based solely on Don's reputation.
Permits for microdistillation are being issued in other states in increasing numbers. In Ohio's system, small batch spirit producers are disadvantaged by laws which do not permit them to sell direct to consumers. Designed to protect taxes, this control system, unintentionally, promotes volume distribution by larger corporations and hampers small producers. Along with the higher unit costs of small batch spirit production, Don Outterson's progress is nothing short of miraculous. With vodka's current popularity in the marketplace, local acceptance of Don's Cincinnati Vodka could provide enough financial support to move on to the next product. So, for now, Don and Linda are taking it one step at a time.
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us_486: Woodstone Creek; Hand crafted small batch hand bottled Rum; 40% alcohol by volume (80 Proof); Distilled and bottled by