Waterpocket’s Wanderlust: West Valley’s Craft Distillery
by Ted Scheffler
“Our wanderlust brought us to Utah,” say Julia and Alan Scott, explaining the origins of their craft distillery’s name: Waterpocket Distillery. Avid outdoor adventurers, “We realized a lifetime of exploration can be had in the mountains, canyons, deserts and wildernesses of this beautiful state. The Waterpocket Fold gives form to the Capitol Reef and the national park that bears this name, and now gives its name to Waterpocket Distillery.”
Based in West Valley City, Waterpocket is a craft distillery producing innovative and delicious artisans spirits such as Blanco Rum, Robbers Roost Light Whiskey, Snow Angel Kümmel, Toadstool Notom Amaro and Long Lost Oread Herbal Liqueur. Explaining some of the unique qualities of Waterpocket products, Alan says “Our rum is made from scratch using Louisiana organic molasses and turbinado cane sugar. We produce an Amaro which adapts European bitters and digestif traditions for a local Utah audience. Our Long Lost line of spirits finds inspiration in forgotten distillation traditions from 19th Century Europe.”
Some of that European influence comes from Julia and Alan’s foreign adventures. Although they hail originally from the Midwest, the couple has lived overseas, including Spain, Hungary, Slovakia and China. “Our culinary scrapbook includes the taste and aromas of dozens of spirits, mostly unknown in the U.S.” say the Scotts.
Witches & Warlocks, Chemists & Brewers
The distillery is based around one large Mueller pot still nicknamed Witch and another small pot still called Warlock. The former handles rum and fermented products, while Warlock is used for botanical liqueurs, gin and assorted other small-batch products.
Co-founder Julia Scott has deep experience in distillation as a chemical engineer, including a PhD in Biochemistry, while Alan Scott has been a passionate homebrewer, mead, and winemaker for 20 years. “We’re a serious distiller,” says Alan, “with the still and fermentation equipment to produce products from scratch. Our liqueurs are produced with original, real ingredients, not flavorings. We’re working with local partners to source fruit from Utah’s orchards for eau-de-vie, brandy and liqueurs. Next we’ll be looking at local grains for whiskey and similar products.”
Where to Find Waterpocket
According to the Scotts, their products can be found in many DABC state stores (there’s a list of such stores on the Waterpocket website), and can be purchased directly at the distillery, as well.
The Scotts cite their friends Sabine Hellwig and Scott Sanders as having been “hugely helpful” in getting their business off the ground, with additional assistance from Zions Bank. When doling out advice to future would-be distillers, they suggest “Deciding if there’s a long-term interest in what you want to make,” adding the necessity to “Do your homework down to the smallest detail. Double your highest (projected) budget.”