While there are obvious activities to indulge in while on vacation in Jackson Hole—skiing, hiking, whitewater rafting, visiting the national parks—there is one less obvious and very unique thing to do: visit a local craft vodka distillery. Touring and tasting some home-grown libations is a special experience and you’ll be able to bring home a bottle or two of vodka as a souvenir for yourself and a friend.
Made in Jackson Hole
The newest vodka distillery on the scene—and the only one based in Jackson Hole— is Jackson Hole Still Works.
Owners Chas Marsh and Travis Goodman set out to make a local product comprised of local ingredients. Made and bottled at a craft distillery located just two miles south of the town of Jackson, Still Works’ “Highwater Vodka” is created with grains farmed and harvested in the Cowboy State and water that runs from the Teton mountain tops to the winding Snake River.
By mid-summer, Travis and Chas will be releasing their first in a series of gins made from botanicals grown in Wyoming.
Chas and Travis have been friends for more than 15 years. As part of their many adventures, they’ve sampled and shared several libations along the way. This culminated in their passion for wine, beer and spirits. Their drive to start a business together started naturally from their friendship and passion to create excellent adult beverages.
“We threw around the idea of starting a brewery,” Goodman says. "But with the amazing brewing scene already a force in Jackson Hole, we thought why not take it to the next level and start the valley's first distillery?"
The business plan was a work in progress for several years, but in February 2014 they put their distillery model into action. With the incredible support of many of the valley's talented businesses, the distillery opened in September 2015 and Still Works had its first sale in November of that year.
Interactive Distillery Tour
Chas and Travis walk each visitor through the process of creating their vodka, from milling oats and corn, cooking, fermenting, distilling and bottling the final product. The homegrown grains that create Highwater Vodka give the product a distinctive Wyoming character.
“It is an exciting and interesting mix of science and art,”Chas says.
After putting grains grown in Riverton and Powell, Wyoming, through a mill, a corn and oat mix are put into a mash tun to convert the grains’ starches to sugar. The mash and yeast then go into a fermentation chamber before being put into their 18-plate column still. Between these 18 plates there is an evaporation and a condensing of vapors, and the breaking of the isotropic bond between alcohol and water.
“All that snow at the top of the mountains ends up in our vodka.” —Travis Goodman, owner, Jackson Hole Still Works
Once complete, the product is then bottled. And Travis and Chas have a pretty interesting way of bottling their vodka.
Once it comes off the still they proof it down and get their bottling program together, usually inviting about a dozen folks from the community over to bottle and label.
Even the bottle’s label was made locally. Jackson Hole artist Katy Ann Fox’s painting of the Tetons is seen through the bottle.
While keeping their vodka a Wyoming product is important to the owners, Chas and Travis are also ecologically conscious.
They always explain that side of their business to every customer. When they built the distillery they designed it to have a circulating water system in order to reuse their cooling water, which saves upwards of 20,000 gallons per month. The building was engineered to be not only efficient on the production side, but also to be efficient with the use of natural resources, i.e. the recycling water system.
Of course, each tour of the distillery ends with a sampling of the product. The owners hope that visitors are able to appreciate the smooth taste created from their yeast, Wyoming grains and mountain water.
Location: 3940 S Eagle View Dr., off Hwy 89, just minutes from the town of Jackson
Tours and tasting room hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m., seven days a week. It's always a good idea to call ahead to make sure the owners aren’t running around somewhere else.
Contact: 307-699-8998, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Art and Vodka
While Jackson Hole Still Works is still in its first year of production, Travis and Chas have plans for their vodka, and adding a second product, gin, with many more in the pipeline.
The owners want to continue supporting local artists, which is why they will switch their label each year. Artists from Wyoming and Teton Valley, Idaho, are encouraged to submit work each year for the company’s annual label contest. This year’s winner will be paid $2,000 and their work will be raffled off to support the Art Association of Jackson Hole, a nonprofit organization that works to keep a creative community in Jackson. Keep a lookout every September for the new label artwork!
The distillery is located at 3940 South Eagle View Dr., off of Hwy 89. Tours and tasting room hours are generally 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week; call ahead to make sure the owners are available at 307-699-8998.
BONUS TIP: In addition to purchasing a bottle of vodka or gin at the distillery, you can have Highwater Vodka delivered right to your door via Bottled Wyoming at bottledwyoming.com.