The first time you do something you learn a lot. If you have ever built a house, you know what this is like. You have to plan every little detail from the ground up. You go round and round on floor plans, specs, colors, finishes, textures, and more. You literally have thousands of decisions to make. Inevitably, once the project is done, you start to say things like, “If we ever build again I want X, Y and Z.” Great, only 997 more decisions to go!
Craft Spirits Distillery Redux
Thanks to the current boom in craft spirits, this kind of conversation is happening all over the country with many distillers. They started out small to get started, they were fortunate to find success and soon find themselves thinking, “If we ever build a distillery again, I want X, Y and Z.”
At Wilderness Trail Distillery, co-founders Shane Baker and Dr. Pat Heist are not just thinking this; they are actually going through this process now. They first opened their craft distillery in 2013, now fast forward three years later and they are about to celebrate the grand opening of their new larger distillery on 21.8 acres in Danville, Kentucky.
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Shane and Pat are no strangers to the distillation business. You see, they are also co-founders of Ferm Solutions – a business that has been in the distillation business for over 10 years offering research, product development, engineering and technical services to the ethanol and distilled spirits industries. They’ve been offering enzymes, antimicrobials and yeasts to startup craft distillers all the way up to the world’s largest spirits companies for many years.
After a couple years of operating a small craft distillery, Shane and Pat had specific ideas about what they wanted in their new distillery. One of the things they knew they wanted to do was take advantage of their presence on the Kentucky Bourbon Trial. They knew tourism was important and to get people to flock to their distillery they wanted something unique, something that would attract visitors, something with that “wow” factor. They had an idea.
Tourism and the Kinetic Powered Spirit Safe
“One of the most unique things we wanted to do was really come up with something that, you know, we are all about tourism, we like people to come and visit us.” according to Shane. “Me being an engineer, we kind of had this Rube Goldberg concept and we narrowed that down to a spirits safe which has really turned out cool. We came up with it and then pitched it over to Vendome Copper and Brass Works and I’ll give them the 480 part credit, they are the ones that designed it and made it work. We conceptualized it and laid out some models and felt that it would work, did the math (keep in mind Shane is an engineer), do we have enough distillate to even power this thing and then said, ‘Hey, this is worth it guys, let’s try it.’ And then they took off, did all the engineering, all the design on it and made it work. It took longer to build than our entire still!”
Say Hello to Walker Woodfill, the 480 Piece Spirit Safe
A Few Facts about Walker Woodfill
Q: How does Walker Woodfill move?
A: Walker is the world’s first kinetic powered spirit safe. He’s powered entirely by the low and high wines coming off the still. Walker’s speed will vary based on the ABV of the spirits running through the still.
Q: Why Walker?
A: Shane said that the name Walker is for his walking and pays homage to Walker Daniel for whom the city of Danville is named. Walker was Kentucky’s first district attorney, who bought 76 acres near the Wilderness Road in 1783. The city of Danville was officially established on December 4, 1787.
Q: Why Woodfill?
A: Woodfill is for filling the barrel.
Q: How many hours did it take to build Walker Woodfill?
A: Including concept, design and building between Wilderness Trail and Vendome, Walker took about 400 hours.
Q: When is the Grand Opening?
A: Saturday 24, 2016 from 11am to 4pm at 4095 Lebanon Road, Danville, Kentucky.
Together, Wilderness Trail Distillery and Vendome Copper and Brass Works have really put the craft in craft spirits with this project. Well done!
Walker Woodfill the Spirit Safe