Tucked away on a side road off 300 West is the Dented Brick Distillery. The spirits distillery is not only a functioning entity, it is also literally built upon the legacy and land of an early pioneer distiller, Hugh Moon.
With the war raging in Ukraine, consumers are not purchasing as much Russian vodka. Managing Member Marc Christensen is energetic and speaks quickly and enthusiastically about The Dented Brick and its products which include vodka. “It has been our number one seller even before this, and it’s been growing pretty rapidly, so I don’t know if it is contributing to our increased sales or not,” he said.
Not only is The Dented Brick distributing widely in Utah, it also distributes in Washington (state), Wyoming, Arizona, Missouri, New York and Florida. “I’ve gotten into some really cool, fun dining establishments in New York,” Christensen said.
So far, Christensen and his associates’ marketing and products have increased sales steadily. Though canned cocktails have come on the scene, they have no plans to jump on the bandwagon to stay competitive.
Another factor which makes The Dented Brick competitive is the artesian well used onsite. “It’s very mineral-rich water, which is fantastic,” Christensen said. “The chemicals in city water ― chlorine, fluorine, bromine ― all those things are detrimental to the fermentation. We don’t have any of those chemicals in the well water, and the minerality improves fermentation even more, creating esters that are not found in other spirits brands.”
The well was used by early pioneer settler and distiller Hugh Moon. “The Moon family was the first family that was converted to Mormonism overseas,” Christensen said. “They sailed across from Liverpool, England. Hugh Moon and his brother were both literate, and they wrote detailed journals. And in fact, Brigham Young commanded Hugh Moon to keep a journal of his experience of converting to the church.”
In a surprising anecdotal note, Mormon settlers were commanded by Brigham Young to only buy their whiskey from Moon.
In honor of the first recorded distiller in Utah, The Dented Brick created a commemorative whiskey, “Hugh Moon White Whiskey.”
In addition to their whiskey and vodka, Dented Brick also offers rum. Their “Glitter Rums,” so named because there are literally iridescent particles throughout, sparkle in the bottle. Mango, passion fruit, pineapple and disco nut coconut are nice summer tropical additions to any cocktail. The pineapple glitter rum is sweet, beautiful to look at, and stands alone as a single offering.
Trained as a distiller primarily in Kentucky, Christensen noted that Utah is known for its tough liquor laws. However, he asserts that it is actually middle-of-the-road in comparison to other states. “In some of the states in the South, you have to ship your product to the state warehouse, and they don’t pay you until they sell it,” Christensen said. One of the benefits of distributing in Utah is that there is only the State to deal with instead of numerous liquor distributors.
Overall, he believes that the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services is heading in a good direction. Christensen is particularly impressed with the Executive Director, Tiffany Clason.
“She’s trying to provide more education to staff as far as getting people to get their wine certifications,” Christensen said.
Putting products in Utah liquor stores is competitive. “You have to apply for a listing, they call it, and they ask you what your budget is for the year,” Christensen said. It’s difficult for local, small distilleries to compete with national or international liquor distributors whose budgets are big. However, Clason is attempting to showcase Utah-made alcohol.
One of the most desired advertising tools in Utah is a “shelf talker.” Shelf talkers are descriptions of an alcohol product directly on a liquor shelf. Obtaining one of these is not easy.
Christensen is thrilled to be in Utah operating a distillery and even more thrilled to be on the very property of the first-known distiller in Utah. There’s something literally in the water that makes it so great.
3100 S Washington Street, South Salt Lake