I hate gin.
Let me rephrase that; I used to hate gin before my palate was saved two years ago by the rise of quality craft gins and one very nice Christmas present. As I began to explore the expanding world of artisan gins, I had the good fortune to stumble across a local distillery with a story almost as good as its gins. Neighbors that are separated by only a fence, the love of craft spirits and the bold dream of starting a grassroots distilling company forged the bond that brought Stillweather Spirits to life.
The team behind Stillweather in Oregon City is comprised of Ben Jeans and the husband-and-wife duo of Erin and Jeff D’Achino. Beginning in the fall of 2018, their first spirit was the American Gin. This balanced version of a London Dry showcases a light and floral style that has found a home and following in the Pacific Northwest. Their second release, the West Coast Gin, is infused with fresh cucumbers that add a light and zesty flavor to the complex profile.
One of the elements that set Stillweather Spirits apart from other up-and-coming distilleries is the motivation the team derives from their blue-collar backgrounds. Erin brings over 20 years of experience as a registered nurse, while Jeff’s history showcases two decades in cryogenics and urban farming. Jeans’ 30-plus years as a carpenter sets the tone for his uncompromising style as a master distiller.
“We approach product development with the intent to build spirits that are clean, concise and express unique flavor profiles that welcome consumers to expand their palates and options all while holding true to what the spirit is,” Erin says. “We are craftsmen and cooks with backgrounds in science and building, and we truly love to create things to share with friends and family.”
The D’Anchinos and Jeans all hold family as their true inspiration. With their headquarters located in the D’Achino home, the environment is filled with the sounds of their twins’ laughter and a trio of dogs playing. The scene is complete with the addition of a trampoline, smoking BBQ and picturesque view of Happy Valley below. They are writing their own “Live, Laugh, Love” creed, but with “Family, Friends and Fun Times.”
But it’s not just their personal histories that drive them. Their success and dedication to their mission have given them the foundation to look forward and build off of their hard work. Rather than turning out spirits simply to expand market presence and cover the shelves, Stillweather is expanding slowly and with a well-thought-out approach.
“We are excited to be bringing a new Northwest-inspired, Aquavit-style botanical spirit to the market early this year, and plan to have a total of five spirits available this fall,” Erin adds.
Finding a distillery that creates and represents more than just a cocktail or a delicious drink can be a rarity, but it’s why consumers seek out the story behind the bottle. Stillweather Spirits celebrates hard work, special moments, and well-deserved nightcaps enjoyed on a weeknight. It’s that passion and commitment that binds the three owners together as friends and distillers, and what has launched a unique brand.
“Our mission is to live and work in our community, utilizing our local resources to become a part of the early adopter phase of American craft spirits,” Erin says. And “to grow to be a key player in the successful modernization of American craft distilleries.”