One of the most exciting distillers in the American West, Whitefish, Montana’s Spotted Bear Spirits has built a local and national reputation thanks to a high quality line of spirits.
The offer an inventive cocktail menu (including vodka, gin and a coffee liqueur) available at its namesake neighborhood bar in the heart of the idyllic town of Whitefish.
The brainchild of Lauren Oscilowski—a veteran of the region’s other acclaimed distillery, Glacier Distilling Company—one of the biggest facets that sets Spotted Bear apart is its passion for sustainability. It’s a goal for the town at large (Whitefish launched its Friend of the Fish tourism checklist this year) and one she takes deeply seriously. Since its opening in December 2015, Oscilowski shared with CHILLED six sustainability tips she’s learned along the way.
Organize: “It’s a big one—I’m part of the city committee we developed called the Sustainable Tourism Management Plan Committee. It’s multifaceted, and the goal is to make tourism more sustainable for our community in a more holistic sense whether environmental, quality of life, as well as economic.”
Compost: “I think there’s so much waste that can be generated, so we compost. We make everything from scratch in the tasting room, so we juice all our citrus or macerate berries and so forth and then make compost from that.”
Source Locally: “We source locally as much as possible to make our carbon footprint smaller in the tasting room, especially during the summer months. We try to process a lot of fruit during their peak season and then freeze it. There are a lot of orchards around Flathead Lake with apples, peaches, and plums, so we freeze them and have local produce during the winter season. We have a deep freezer and it’s about trying to preserve that produce and extend the local season.”
Go Organic: “When we make Limoncello, we use all organic ingredients. We’re infusing the skin of the lemon in ethanol, so if we didn’t go organic we’d be wicking pesticides into the distileite. So we process dozens and dozens of cases of lemons over the span of a week, juice them and then freeze them, so we can use that fresh juice.”
Recycling: “In Montana, there’s no way to recycle glass in the state, so we started the Canteen program. I worked with a manufacturer in California to create a removable label that you can dissolve the adhesive so we can reuse the bottles. How it works is that our customers can buy a reusable bottle for five bucks more, bring in your empty and we’d sanitize, fill it up and put on a fresh label. We had to put it on pause because it was so popular, but we’re going to dive back in.”
No Plastic: “One thing everyone can do to be more sustainable is ditch plastic. Paper straws in cocktails get soggy, so work with a company called HAY! Straws which all have different diameters, thicker straws for Bloody Marys and thinner for cocktails. They’re a fantastic organization.”