2020 - Volume #44, Issue #2, Page #10[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Farm-Based Distilleries Catching On Fast
Near Columbia, Ill., not far from St. Louis, Adam and Laura Stumpf operate Stumpy’s Spirits on their 8th generation 4,000-acre family farm. Nearly 200 acres is dedicated to specialty grains for their whiskeys, bourbons and vodkas. Everything in their bottles, including the water, comes from their farm. Their whiskey reflects the soil, climate, specific grain varieties, minerals from their deep limestone aquifer, and a passion for perfection.
Adam grew up on the farm, became a mechanical engineer, and then worked 4 years at Anheuser-Busch where he learned the art and science of brewing. While working on a class assignment for his MBA he created a distillery business plan which became the foundation for Stumpy’s Spirits.
“I was armed with farming and brewing knowledge, mechanical and business skills, but I quickly realized I needed tenacity, patience, and money,” says Adam. He learned that a federal license takes months to earn and requires a mountain of paperwork.
With the federal permit in hand, state and county requirements had to be met. Some of the Stumpf’s land had to be rezoned from farm to commercial. “During the start-up phase we worked hard to find the best traditional processes to produce what we wanted,” Adam says. “This involved taste bud training, learning the best of American whiskey production, and sampling the nuanced differences in grain varieties including rye, barley, and white or red corn.”
They changed equipment 4 times and experimented with pot stills and continuous column stills to see which one worked best for each type of spirit. Working long hours 7 days a week, they got the right recipes and sent samples for lab analysis so they knew exactly how to duplicate the unique tastes in each small batch.
Today the Stumpfs have production and sales help from 14 full and part-time employees. They do this all while raising a family and running their farm operation.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Stumpy’s Spirits Distillery, 1727 Centerville Road, Columbia, Ill. 62236 (ph 618 281-7733; www.stumpysspirits.com).
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