John and Snezhi left their native Europe many years ago but found each other in the United States. They searched for the perfect place to call their home and settled in Winston, Montana at the base of the Elkhorn Mountains overlooking the spot where the Missouri River expands to form Canyon Ferry Lake. It’s a peaceful place where in fall you hear elk bugle, antelope greet you with a snort and coyotes sing you to sleep at night. Each morning the sunrise paints the lake with an amazing array of colors. It truly is the “Last Best Place” to live and work and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Inspired by our admiration for the local values and traditions, we founded Stonehouse Distillery to handcraft small-batch Rum and Whiskey.
Snezhi’s family recipes were perfected over years in Bulgaria and the art of hand-crafting spirits was traditionally passed down from one generation to another. In Troyan, a small Bulgarian town, located in the center of the Balkan Mountain Range, every summer for a certain period the entire population sets all other business aside to make Slivovitz, the famous plum brandy. Women and children are harvesting the plums while men are busy mashing and distilling it.
John came to Montana from Germany where his family was involved in developing various clear grain spirits, typically called “Korn”, the German word for ‘grain’. Now we’re continuing these traditional values by using the products harvested here. Our neighbor grows some of the finest wheat, which led us to develop Winston Wheat Whiskey. A short ride up the highway provides us with beautiful rye and malted barley adding other varieties to our selection, such as Sweet Corn Whiskey, Rye and Wheat Whiskey.
In 2012 we traveled to Europe to further explore regional distilling techniques at the source. In Bulgaria, we met with monks who shared ancient brandy-making practices. In Germany, we talked with several distillers to discuss their specific approach to distilling. In Scotland, we spent a (work-) week at Glendronach Distillery where management and staff graciously instructed us step by step through all the distilling stages.
All our spirits are lovingly created in-house: we grind the grain; mash with pure Montana mountain water that is naturally filtered through our local limestone deposits; ferment in single-batches; and then use our copper pot still to extract the finished product. Since our focus is on flavor rather than super-efficiency we installed a traditional copper still, which was hand-made in Portugal following an age-old design that retains the full body and aroma.
Visit our tasting room and enjoy “Gemütlichkeit” in Montana. Sample our 100% handcrafted small batch spirits! From the bar, you have a perfect view of what goes on inside the distillery and can see the step-by-step process from mashing, fermenting, distilling, bottling and labeling.