After 23 years as a public school teacher, Ashley Cross was burned out. She told her husband, Chris, “I don’t want to go back for year 24. I want a new world.” He suggested they start a distillery, playing into their love of agave and other base products in spirits, using New World sourced ingredients. And that’s how New World Distillery was born.
When they opened in December of 2016, they had to pay an entire year of state and federal licensing fees to be open 20 days, but it was a risk that paid off. They attracted tourists coming for the snow and Christmastime in Eden.
They distill a variety of spirits including their Oomaw Gin, Rabbit and Grass Agave Spirits, Blanco, their very popular Wasatch Blossom Utah Tart Cherry Liqueur, barrel-rested Gin, Ogden Valley Vodka, and Ogden Nine Rails Bourbon Whiskey, along with a seasonal line of apple brandies that are unaged and traditionally casked.
Things were going great until March 2020, and then the COVID pandemic hit. Ashley and Chris had to shut down their tastings and distillery tours and they went from a staff of seven to two in a matter of weeks. But they continued to distill and sell their products and were able to remain open in some form the entire time.
Ashley said, “We slowly brought back staff over time, and now with the easing of COVID restrictions we’ve been able to restart the tours on a limited basis. We still aren’t doing general tastings, but have that option in conjunction with the tours.”
They require proof of full vaccination for a tour because it brings people into their production area. They also still require masks in their retail area in accordance with CDC guidelines for mixed groups in an unventilated space.
Some people think they are being overcautious and they’ve had run-ins with people that loudly and physically proclaim their opposition. But Ashely explains that as distillers, “We believe in science.”
Their responses and precautions are based on science. They have a doctor, nurse, chemist and two engineers on staff. Ashley said that trying to do the right thing is harder than it looks.
“Eden was a COVID hot spot and so we took all the precautions seriously,” Ashley said. “We have an employee who is under 30 and a cancer survivor who hasn’t reached the 5 year mark. We don’t have expendable staff. As a business owner I am obligated to protect my staff and the community.”
Another big reason for all the caution are the potential side effects of COVID including the loss of smell and taste. This would put them out of business. “Chris is our distiller and he depends on his senses, particularly taste and smell. If he lost those we would be done,” Ashley explains.
It’s been a long 15 months, and the staff are happy to see people coming out again. They want everyone who visits to feel safe and comfortable. They see that the people who come in are happy just to be out and about again.
Find a description of their products on their website and sign up for a tour and tasting.
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