4th Annual 630 Day Party
Thursday June 30th, 2016
5-9pm at StilL 630 Distillery
1000 S. 4th St., St. Louis, MO 63104
BUY TICKETS HERE
$30 advance / $35 door
Food: 5:30-7pm – Spirits Unveiling: 6:30pm
We’re gearing up for our biggest and best 630 Day yet!
This year’s party is all about EXPEDITIONS and RUM. They go hand in hand, right!? Specifically my all-time favorite expedition: the immortal Lewis & Clark Expedition. And the inaugural release of our flagship line of rum: Expedition Rum!
St. Louis was founded at the confluence of two of the mightiest rivers on this continent: the Missippi and the Missouri. This strategic spot helped St. Louis earn the nickname “Gateway to the West” which inspired the Gateway Arch, an iconic monument recognizable worldwide, which then inspired us in founding StilL 630 Distillery.
The Missouri River is one of our great local natural resources and it’s particularly important as the pathway for Lewis & Clark’s expedition in 1804 that began to map the Louisiana Purchase. It’s personally precious to me, as a raft guide and general water lover, because it is also the course for the world’s longest and greatest kayak race: the MR 340. Which I have successfully completed in 2014 and will (foolishly) attempt again this July!
Therefore we are proud to announce that we have selected the MO River Relief organization as our charity partner for this year’s 630 Day! They are a great group of dedicated citizens who strive to promote, protect, and clean up our great local resource. A portion of our proceeds from the event will go directly to River Relief. Learn more about this great non-profit and how you can make an impact HERE.
630 Day means new spirit releases, and this year takes it up a notch with two new spirits and the triumphant return of an old favorite! (HINT: it’s our most award-winning spirit!)
We will be releasing our inaugural batch of our flagship rum line: Expedition Rum! (read more about Expedition Rum HERE)
S.S. Sorghum Whiskey! We our releasing the Second Batch of our most award-winning spirit! (read more about S.S. Sorghum Whiskey HERE) Just like Batch 1, it won’t last long, so make sure you come get it while it lasts!
(More info on the spirit releases to come!)
***Info on FOOD, PRIZES, GAMES, etc will be rolled out periodically, so stay tuned!***
This year’s American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) Convention was held in Chicago at the Palmer House Hilton and it was a great event. Tons of informative speakers and topics, good companies offering useful products at the expo, but the best part is always getting to know the other distillers from all around the country. And how better to get to know people than with booze-fueled mingling!? And the best part is that these are the people who make all the great craft spirits! This is the industry group for the American craft spirits industry, basically everyone who isn’t Jim Beam. If I remember right, there were over 200 distilleries from all over the United States. Awesome to meet and talk with people who are doing exactly what I’m doing and hear all their unique stories, challenges, and successes. I got to meet the actual guys (and ladies!) who actually make some of my favorite craft spirits. Very cool just from that aspect…
I got to talk with some guys who’ve played a big role (whether they know it or not) in my personal story. First and foremost: Orlin Sorenson from the fantastic Woodinville Whiskey Co in Washington. I did a short ‘apprenticeship’ with Orlin and his partner Brett back when I was first getting started. At the conference, after his presentation with Jeff LaHue of Independent Stave Co (MO proud!) on the results of their long term barrel aging study, I got to talk with Orlin and it was really cool for me to meet with him now as, if not really equals, at least peers. I also got to talk with John Jeffries, of Sante Fe Spirits now, but I first met John when he was a graduate student in the distilling program at Michigan State where I took a workshop on distilling when I was first getting into this thing.
Now, I left the trading world to start this distillery because I wanted to make the BEST damn spirits I can. To grow it into a world renowned institution that is respected and loved (and enjoyed!) all over the globe and eventually on interstellar colonies. I want to be a 21st Century Liquor Baron. And at the same time, I never imagined or hoped that I would see the greatest heights of this distillery. I want it to continue to grow even greater long after I’m gone.
But the best part of these early years is that I get to write what will be the history of StilL 630. I am single-handedly creating the legend of company founder. Through my blood, sweat, and tears, through countless hours of passionate labor, and with my sales manager Adam Larkin beating the pavement relentlessly, we are building this company, this brand. And so each little success along the way is a great milestone and cause for celebration.
And once in a while in life, our hard work is rewarded and we are blessed to achieve bigger successes. Which brings me to Wed night and the American Craft Spirits Association’s awards….
You can read a little about my trials and tribulations just getting my products entered into the judging HERE. But without making this a novel, I’ll summarize the awards by saying that they were broken down into 5 categories: Vodka, Gin, Brandy, Rum & Whiskey. (The medals are awarded on a point system, so that’s why there can be multiple recipients) The full results from the 2016 American Craft Spirits Awards can be found HERE.
Our first ever brewery collaboration (with Alpha Brewing Co) won us a Bronze Medal for our ALPHA ISBA! We also won Bronze Medals for our Soulard Island Rum and Soulard Island Smoked Honey Rum!
We won Silver Medals for our S.S. Sorghum Whiskey and RallyPoint Maple Sunset!
And then, we won a GOLD medal for our Double Barrel RallyPoint Rye Whiskey!!
I was ecstatic. Going into the competition, I kept telling myself that I was really being greedy imagining that we’d win any medals, let alone top the three medals we won LAST YEAR. But it turned out to be a damn good thing that I drove to Louisville in that snowstorm back in January, because that ensured that Soulard Island Rum and RallyPoint Maple Sunset were entered… and obviously won us additional Bronze & Silver medals! But to come away with SIX medals was incredible! It proves that last year wasn’t a fluke, and that our spirits are legitimately great!
I couldn’t believe it. Incredible. And indescribably rewarding and validating and reaffirms my belief in the righteousness of chasing your dreams.
And even better, we weren’t the only Missouri Distillery to receive medals that night! Square One Brewery & Distillery, Woodcut Spirits, and Tom’s Town Distillery all took home hardware! Which is awesome because I know these guys, we’re friends, so I love seeing them succeed too!
But after the medals, the judges broke the classes down into categories (ie. Whiskey-wheat/single malt/bourbon/rye/liqueur) And these were based strictly on taste by the judges. And Double Barrel RallyPoint Rye Whiskey was named BEST RYE WHISKEY!!!
But then, somehow, it got better. They picked an overall best spirit from each class (vodka, gin, brandy, rum, whiskey). ACSA2016Awards-AnnouncementVideo
DOUBLE BARREL RALLYPOINT RYE WHISKEY WAS NAMED “BEST IN CLASS – WHISKEY”!!! This award was something I’d coveted from the first convention I went to years ago. I promised myself that someday I would win it. As I sat down to dinner that night, I saw the Best In Class awards sitting on the stage and I renewed my vow again. Having no idea that this dream would be mine in a couple hours!
It was an incredible evening and I still am trying to digest it. I can’t stress enough how much of an honor this award is. To me, it’s validation of my passion, the payoff of years of relentless hard work, the sacrifices our family has made to chase this dream. I could not be more grateful. And tasting through all the great spirits entered into the contest (which we did after the awards ceremony) it’s an even greater honor because there are lots of people around the whole country making some fantastic craft spirits.
But there can be only one… BEST WHISKEY!!
Don’t misinterpret, we still have a VERY long way to go to achieve my vision. The mountain still looms ahead. Now I’m going to do my best to use this award to help grow the company so we can bring our fantastic spirits to more people in more places. And to do that means to grow. So hopefully this is just the beginning of the next great chapter in StilL 630 history!
And with God as my witness, I’m going to manifest my dreams.
So cheers to outrageous success and to bigger and better things to come!
I just got back from Louisville. It was an odyssey of a trip and it all began with a spirits competition. The American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) holds an annual Spirits Competition each year where they bring in an expert panel of judges to perform a blind judging of all the craft spirits entered. Last year they had over 150 different distilleries from all over the United States submit spirits. They are judged and awarded medals on a point system (which means it’s possible for multiple medals to be awarded in each category).
This year’s judging is taking place at Huber’s Starlight Distillery in Southern Indiana, just over the river from Louisville. We did incredibly well last year (READ MORE HERE) and this year StilL 630 has entered a total of eight spirits into the competition with high, but guarded, hopes.
I had to send the spirits in three separate packages, and of course one got damaged. Even though it was blatantly marked “FRAGILE” “GLASS” etc, it got damaged and one of the bottles broke. UPS opened the package and saw it was alcohol so they refused to deliver it, saying that either I or the recipient could come claim it before they destroyed it.
I’d been going back and forth with some of the super nice people running the competition, Teresa McDaniels specifically, hoping desperately that they could have someone pick it up. As you know, it’s been snowing pretty heavily lately, and the snowstorm that just passed through is currently blanketing Southern Indiana/Northern Kentucky right now… making it almost impossible for anyone from the ACSA to pick them up.
So later in the evening, after I finished a personal tour of the new Shriner’s Childrens Hospital (which is fantastic, by the way!), it took me 45 minutes to inch my way back to the distillery (about 3 miles). The snowstorm was starting to hit heavily, but I finally resolved to go myself rather than have those spirits miss the competition. And at this point, I wasn’t exactly sure which spirits were in jeopardy, which made the decision that much more difficult. I knew one was the Maple Sunset, and I finally found an extra bottle at the distillery (which saved me an unknown amount of hours from having to first drive back West to my house and then East to Louisville in this snow traffic).
So I jumped in my car about 6pm and 33 minutes later I’d managed to travel the three blocks and actually get onto the interstate. I arrived at my friend’s house (with whom I was crashing) in Louisville a little before midnight, having driven basically on the wings of the snowstorm.
He was waiting up for me and we toasted my arrival (and my birthday, which happened at 12am) and drank for a couple hours before finally heading to bed! I got up the next morning, finally made it to the airport, finally found the right place, and picked up my package (Soulard Island Rum and Maple Sunset) and an hour later I was actually pulling up to Huber’s.
The ladies there were extremely nice and visibly surprised that I’d dared to drive all this way to get my spirits into the competition. I’m glad I did though. And hopefully when the results are announced in Chicago at the convention in March, it will pay off in the form of medals… but we’ll see!
I’m also fortunate that when my car slid off the country road leaving the distillery, that I slid into the ditch on the side of the road that DIDN’T have the creek. Luckily, I was able to carefully drive out of it and continue on my way. But it was a pretty stressful few minutes where I imagined being stuck on a rarely-traveled back road in southern Indiana… on my birthday. But I ended up making it back home without further incident.
Just felt like sharing some of the behind-the-scenes trials and tribulations of a little distillery and the dedication required. Fingers crossed for March…!!!
Wow, time flies by when you’re busting your ass. I can’t believe that it’s Dec 31st, 2015. What a great way to cap off a great year with our Halfway to 630 Day party last night that was a rousing success! Thank you again to all who came out and made it so much fun. And I can’t say enough how grateful I am for all of your continued support and enthusiasm for my spirits. I literally couldn’t be doing this without it. And 2015 was the year that I was able to fully devote myself to my dream job, so for that alone it was a memorable year!
12 months ago, I set out a list of goals for the year, I’ve copied it here because I believe in holding yourself accountable. As you can see, there were many places I fell short. That’s great, I know I still have much improvement to make and new victories to strive towards. And I like to bite off more than I can chew.
My #1 Goal:
-Be the best Father & Husband I can be (I’d like to say YES to this one!)
-Introduce 4 new spirits (YES)
-Double distillery output (YES)
-Have 60+ barrels aging on Dec 31st, 2015 (YES!)
-Barrel Age 12 cocktails (NO)
-Throw a great 3rd Annual 630 Day Party! (YES!)
-Obtain out of state distributor (n/a)
-Add Event Calendar to website (YES)
-Blog & Social Media Current (YES)
-Launch cocktail videos (NO)
-Have an intern (YES)
-Successful Mardi Gras (YES)
-Win Spirit Medal (HELL YES!!!)
-Sell First Private Single Barrel (YES!!)
-Frame Posters (YES)
-Read 12 books (YES)
-Cook 12 new (to me) dishes (NO, 7)
-Make 24 new (to me) cocktails (YES, new favorite: Big Jake/Drambuie)
-Go to 6 new (to me) STL restaurants (YES)
-Run 100 miles (NO)
-Bike 600 miles (or MR340) (NO)
-Bike Katy Trail (NO)
-Lose 10 pounds (start 248) (YES, 238lbs)
-Celebrate Birthdays & Anniversaries (YES)
-Complete 4 Short Stories (NO)
-Complete 4 Poems (NO)
-Finish children’s book (NO)
-Catch up w/Journal before March 1st (NO)
-Frame Life Goals (NO)
-Go Diving Twice (NO)
-Go Camping (NO)
-Go Hiking (YES)
-Go Rafting/kayaking (NO)
-Taxes done before February (YES)
-Visit Chicago (YES)
-Visit Indy (YES)
-Visit Louisville (YES)
-Visit a new city (NO)
-Leave the Country (NO)
-Grow successful garden (kinda)
-Increase Flexibility (YES)
-Finish Stained Glass for (gift) (NO)
-Finish Climbing Picture (NO)
-Finish Guest Room (paint/hang pictures) (NO)
-Complete An Athletic Event (NO)
-No Procrastination, FWYS GOADI (NO)
-Support a Charity (YES)
-Fully Organize basement (YES)
Clearly, my focus was on my growing family and the distillery this year, that was my life. I had little time for anything else, particularly my other hobbies. That probably won’t change in 2016, but that’s fine, because in 2015 I got to work my dream job and I grew my company and made great spirits. Best of all, I can proudly say that both my family and my company are in better shape than they were Jan 1st, 2015! So cheers to a record setting year and for bettering it next year!!
We had a great event for our inaugural launch of our Rare Release Barrel Series! I can’t thank everyone enough for coming out to support us! Not only was our Double Barrel RallyPoint a huge hit, but we were able to raise $400 for the Shriner’s Hospital for Children! And we’re very proud to support such a great organization.
Matt & Beth Sorrell of Cocktails Are Go! did a wonderful job pouring delicious drinks like the Ginger Old-Fashioned, Beauty & The Beast, and Breakfast with Mozart (all delicious, but my favorite was the Breakfast with Mozart). And some more good news for those who couldn’t make it: ‘though we sold many of the limited edition Rare Release bottles, there are still some left and they’ll be available in our tasting room until they’re sold out!
And I bet you didn’t realize our barrel room is SO big you can drive in it… provided you have an appropriately sized car!
I am so humbled and honored that so many of you wanted to come out and get your hands on our brand new release whiskeys. It’s natural at this time of year to reflect and I couldn’t be more thankful to witness such overwhelming support from all of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
We had so much fun we might have to make this an annual tradition…
Throughout the year, we make a big deal about our spirits and drinking in general. And it’s all fun and good-natured and I do really believe that a great spirit or cocktail really does bolster the good times shared with family and friends. But it’s obvious that the shared time with dear friends and loving family that is most important, whether you’re drinking together or not.
And I can not be more thankful for my loving wife, for supporting me and this wonderful adventure and being an incredible mother to our kiddos; for my boys, who make all this nonstop hard work seem worthwhile, they are the absolute best things in my life; for Big Jake, for making all of my clothes white and always being happy to see me; for the rest of my family on all sides, who are just a pleasure to be around; and for my dear friends, who are really more like extended family. My life wouldn’t be the same without every single one of you and I’m incredibly grateful to have you in my life. You people are the reason I’m trying so hard to make spirits that are worthy of celebrating with you.
And also, an extra special Thank You to all the fans and supporters of my humble little distillery. It’s directly because of your encouragement and support that I am able to continue to live my dream. I’m thankful for the opportunity you give me to continue to hone my craft and I hope that the results continue to make it worth your while.
And no matter what anyone says, I’m thankful to be an American and live here in this great country. While not perfect, it’s got many more positives than you’d know simply by watching the news. I’m thankful that so many people are working to make it a better place.
I’m incredibly blessed and on NO day does it go unappreciated. I hope that you too can find many things to be thankful for in your life. So, Cheers! And here’s to perspective and the important things in life.
We had a great time at Whiskey In The Winter, which has definitely proven itself as one of the premier spirit events in the region! Where else can you sample over 300 spirits from great distilleries around the world (and some of us from right down the street!) in one place?
Another amazing Whiskey In The Winter has come and gone. We want to thank everyone who came to see us, especially all those who tried our spirits and then dragged friends back! We saw a lot of old friends and even made some new ones. We are truly humbled by your overwhelming support because without you we do not exist. Thank you. Until next time, we’ll keep making the best spirits we can!
To us, it is a great symbol of hope and potential, the audacity of the settlers. It beckons to the dreamer inside all of us who imagines carving out a life amidst this crazy world. And while the Western frontier is more corporate sprawl than bison range these days, it’s still a great big world in which to stake out your place.
The Arch was built to commemorate those brave men and women who set out to create their American Dream. And that’s exactly how I view this distillery. StilL 630 is MY American Dream. And I can’t think of a more fitting place to make our spirits than in the shadow of this beautiful monument.
And so I raise a glass to the Arch, and hope that it will inspire countless more people to chase their dreams, as it has inspired me. Cheers!
I’m super excited to announce that as I sit here writing this, the first stripping run of the second spirit in our Brewery Collaboration Series is coming off the still!
For this exceptional project, we have partnered with our good friends at Modern Brewery. (With whom we partnered for a barrel-aged version of their Arkham’s Finest (which was sensational!) and the Motion At The Still adventure filmfest we held last Nov)
Because the goal for this project is a release at 630 Day 2016, we decided to go with a summer appropriate beer, to wit, a Biere de Garde – which is basically a strong pale ale. This one has some incredible floral notes and the right amount of body to be delicious now, but traditionally these beers are meant to be cellared before drinking.
As we did with our first collaboration (read HERE), I’m planning on double distilling this beer and aging it in new 15 gallon charred oak barrels to impart the oak flavor and develop some more complexity as a spirit in the time we have available. (as I write, 630 Day is exactly 9 months from tomorrow!) They are also aging a couple hundred gallons of the beer in our used RallyPoint barrels in the classical style of maturing a Biere de Garde before consumption and we will be releasing them together to enjoy the two different expressions of this delicious alcohol.
And so it goes without saying that Modern Brewery will be our official craft beer partner for 630 Day 2016! They’ll be here pouring their barrel-aged Biere de Garde… and probably another of their fantastic beers!
The Classic Cocktail Party continues to grow every year and just get better and better. Where else can you sample ALL the local Missouri craft distilleries in one place?!? And not only do you get to sample their spirits, they also whip up delicious cocktails so you can taste great cocktails that showcase their spirits!
It all happens on Sat Sept 12th in Lafayette Park in Lafayette Square in St. Louis. It’s a classy evening event with two bands this year and a fun, festive atmosphere. From 6-9pm enjoy great spirits and great company as you embark on a tasty tour of Missouri’s finest craft distillers!