Young Idaho vodka distillery gaining international recognition
Grand Teton Vodka of Driggs continues to outperform. Last month, the family-owned distillery won a Double Gold Medal from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition for its original potato vodka – an honor only achieved if all judges unanimously rank the spirit as “Gold.”
Bill and Lea Beckett began Grand Teton Vodka in the fall of 2011 on Highway 33 north of Driggs and built the distillery from the ground up. They started shipping product in August 2012, with Amangani Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming ordering the first cases and becoming the first to serve the spirit at its bar. Grand Teton now distributes to five states – Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and Arkansas – and the company is seeking distributors in other states.
The San Francisco World Spirits award isn’t the first honor Grand Teton has won. Its previous award was won when the company was only three months old. The Beverage Testing Institute (BTI) in Chicago ranks vodka annually, and last year Grand Teton Vodka won a Gold Medal and 94 points, which BTI categorized as the top-ranked potato vodka in the world. Another ranking Web site, Proof66, does a meta-analysis (combines all rankings into one) and ranks spirits worldwide. In the Top Rated Vodkas category, Grand Teton is ranked seventh in the world and number one for potato vodka.
In addition to producing high-ranking spirits, the processes used at the Grand Teton distillery are very “green,” with only water and potato solids left after distillation. Grand Teton then pumps those waste materials into 270-gallon totes, which are picked up by a local rancher who mixes it with hay and straw for cattle feed. In agricultural research these are called distillers “grains” and are recommended as supplemental cattle feed.
Additionally, distilleries require cooling water to keep the fermenters at a constant temperature, and many distilleries use city or well water and then dump it after use. Grand Teton, however, placed a 1,000-gallon tank underground and uses it to recirculate cooling water. During the summer months the company even pumps the water out to a condenser for additional cooling.
This summer, Grand Teton plans to introduce three new products: a white whiskey – or “moonshine” – called Mountain Man Moonshine in plain, huckleberry and apple pie flavors. The whiskey will be packaged in a glass jug with a finger hold, similar to the old moonshine jugs.
To learn more about Grand Teton Vodka products, visit its Web site atwww.tetonvodka.com