Biz Buzz: Local distillery celebrating 10 years of producing vodka from Idaho potatoes
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Distillery in Driggs marks decade of business with expansion project
DRIGGS – Good ideas often come at the most unexpected times, and in Lea and Bill Beckett’s case, it happened over a glass of vodka.
It was 2010, and the Driggs couple had been sitting on a 4-acre parcel of land off Idaho Highway 33 that they’d bought three years before. They’d originally planned to build a hotel, but the recession brought that to a halt.
The ground lay fallow for several years when a stroke of genius hit them on their front porch one night.
“They were surrounded by thousands of acres of potatoes and thought, ‘Don’t they make vodka from that? Why don’t we do that with our property?'” their son, Andrew Boczar, recounted to EastIdahoNews.com.
Grand Teton Distillery opened two years later and has turned out to be a profitable venture.
Today, it produces between 60,000 and 70,000 bottles of vodka every year for bars and liquor stores throughout Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. There’s also a storefront where customers can buy vodka in person.
The distillery uses about 200,000 pounds of Idaho potatoes to produce several kinds of vodka and a malt whiskey from Idaho-malted barley. It also makes bourbon, corn whiskey and other alcoholic beverages. See how the process works in the video above.
Boczar, who is one of the company’s owners, sums up the business’s success over the last decade this way,
“What does good in both bad times and good times? Alcohol,” he says with a chuckle. “It does good, regardless (of what’s going on in the world).”
The company uses a hybrid still to manufacture vodka, which produces up to 80% alcohol content.
“To be considered a vodka, it has to come off the still at 95% — very pure alcohol,” Boczar explains.
A column still is used to create the additional 15%.
One thing that sets the distillery apart from others, according to Boczar, is the packed column. The column provides a greater flow and surface area so that the maximum amount of potato oils and essences can enhance the flavor in the final product.
And going forward, the ability to produce alcoholic beverages for clients is only going to get stronger.
An 8,000-square-foot expansion project is currently underway on the south side of the distillery. It will include a larger tasting room and event space in hopes of making it a destination location.
“Most people who come to this area are on their way to national parks. We want them to come to this area specifically to visit us,” says Boczar.
The expansion is slated for completion later this year and he’s excited to unveil it to the community.
Grand Teton Distillery is at 1755 North Highway 33. It’s open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.