Yahara Bay Distillers getting bigger
The staff at Yahara Bay Distillers.
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When family-run Yahara Bay Distillers opened its doors in 2007 it was in the hopes of being a small side project during retirement for owners, Nick and Catherine Quint. Now, in just eight short years, Yahara Bay has grown out of its Madison-based warehouse facility and is currently in the process of building a brand new distillery and event center in Fitchburg that will be four times the size of its current location.
Set to open in the fall 2016, Yahara Bay’s new facility will be more than 20,000 square feet, enough space to house its growing distillation operation for the 40-plus spirits the company currently produces for its own brand, as well as private labels, that are distributed to more than 20 U.S. states.
The new location, right off Highway PD on Nesbitt Road, will also provide enough room to accommodate the growth of Yahara Bay’s import bottling business for Vom Fass U.S.A., which now has more than 25 stores nationwide.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think Yahara Bay Distillery would grow beyond our industrial park space here in Madison,” Owner Nick Quint confesses. “This next chapter for us is no small undertaking and I must admit, it is scarier than the first time around when we opened the doors in 2007. But my mind is at ease knowing we have an amazing family of employees on board and the tremendous support of our local community.”
Quint notes Yahara Bay’s growth coincides with the rise of craft distilleries. When the company opened its doors in 2007 it was just the second distiller operating in Wisconsin, and the first in the southern part of the state. At the time there were only 60 craft distilleries operating nationwide; now, there are more than 700.
“There are two main reasons for that growth,” Quint explains. “The first is pretty much all of us concentrate on local everything — ingredients, distribution, and employees. Second, craft distillers are able to create unique, interesting products. Prior to the increase in craft distilleries, the market mainly had just the major producers making two or three big-time products. Now there are almost an unlimited variety of bourbons, whiskeys, vodka, and more.”
The larger facility, currently under construction, will also serve as an event space with room for 200 people and come equipped with a larger sample bar, lounge area, kitchen area, local art gallery, and all the touring aesthetics and retail space that come with building from the ground up.
Quint says the company began with just family volunteers and has since grown to 12 employees. Yahara Bay expects to at least double that once the expansion is complete, with new jobs in the production area, as well as the new tasting room and event center.
“We are adding all the bells and whistles you might expect for a new distillery,” Jill Skowronski, vice president of sales and marketing says, “but we will still be a craft distillery. Our spirits will still use local ingredients; our bottles will always be filled, labeled, and written on by hand. We will never abandon the local, hand-crafted values that helped us get here; we will just have a larger space for people to experience and enjoy the ‘Spirit of Madison.’”