Utah Stories

The Exceptional Whiskey Makers of Utah

No one can deny that whiskey is the on-trend liquor of America, and Utah boasts a vast array of whiskey distillers that are making their talents known. Meet the owners (and distillers) of three of Utah’s growing talent of distilleries — Sugar House Distillery, Hammer Spring Distillers and Alpine Distilling. 


Each has a passion for their products, a love of the amber spirits, and the desire to make whiskies that display the unique characteristics of this state — using local grains to craft some, if not all, of their spirits.

James Fowler, owner and distiller at Sugar House Distillery. Photo by Dung Hoang.
James Fowler, owner and distiller at Sugar House Distillery. Photo by Dung Hoang.

Sugar House Distillery

Sugar House Distillery owner and distiller James Fowler prides himself on his regionally sourced, small-batch, grain-to-glass artisanal spirits he and his distillers have been producing since 2014. 

Fowler’s passion for entrepreneurship, combined with his love of whiskey, led him down the path of crafting award-winning small-batch whiskey, where he’s become a pioneer in Utah’s craft spirits scene.

 Spending countless hours with Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services, he’s invested time and effort to understand and also make headway to change state laws that make little sense to those in the business, let alone consumers. 

He’s unwavering in his hands-on approach to every part of the whiskey-making process — from contracting with grain farmers, to grinding the grain, to bottling the finished product — making his products true grain-to-glass by controlling the spirit from beginning to end. And his hard work has paid off. Sugar House has won an entire page of awards.

Fowler has teamed up with head distiller Ryan Stambaugh, formerly of Utah Brewers Cooperative (Wasatch and Squatters), and a team of whiskey enthusiasts to turn grain, molasses, yeast and water into delicious, hand-crafted spirits including vodka, rye, 100% malted barley whisky, gold rum and bourbon.  

Sugar House assistant distillers Ryan Ewing and Steve Moffat, in addition to Fowler and Stambaugh, point to the gold medal award-winning American single malt whiskey as their favorite, thanks to the complexity of Utah’s barley (a combination of Pale, Vienna, and Honey malts) to entice sweet, honey and vanilla. 

As the company continues to grow, they’ve expanded into canned cocktails to broaden their reach, while also making even smaller-batch offerings such as the Boilermaker Series and the experimental Barrel Master Series, which feature intriguing mashups of whiskey aged in barrels that have held a variety of items. They’ll release their first high-value bottle offering in October.

2212 S West Temple, Unit #14, Salt Lake City, UT


Open Monday through Saturday 11am to 6pm

Brent Pounds, new owner, along with Jennica Pounds of Hammer Spring Distillers. Photo by Kaelyn Korte.
Brent Pounds, new owner, along with Jennica Pounds of Hammer Spring Distillers. Photo by Kaelyn Korte.

Hammer Spring Distillers

Brent and Jennica Pounds are the proud new owners of Hammer Spring Distillers. The Draper-based couple had been considering starting a distillery for the past couple years so, “when Hammer Spring came up for sale earlier this year, we thought it was an amazing fit,” says Brent. 

Brent, who will serve as lead distiller, has a degree in mechanical engineering, an MBA, and brings a multitude of distillery training courses, mainly from Moonshine University, to this new business endeavor.

At present, Hammer Spring is perhaps best known for its Perky Cowgirl Coffee Liqueur and is the only Utah distillery to make vodka from potatoes. But it’s the Hammer Spring Bourbon that stands out thanks to its Utah connection. The grain-to-glass bourbon is a full-bodied whiskey due to the corn, rye, and wheat mash bill. All the grains are milled, fermented, distilled, barreled, aged, and bottled in the distillery. Every 47% abv. (94 proof) batch is single-barrel with a long, smooth finish. 

The Pounds will look to build on the foundational reputation that the previous owners, JP and Vita Bernier, have built. “We’ll be leaning into our spirit of innovation and experimentation while trying to leverage local and regional ingredients,” Brent says. “One of our focuses will be a High Desert-style gin that Hammer Spring is known for with a more savory profile and sage-heavy notes.”

Looking forward, Brent continues, “We have already begun to ramp up our whiskey production and are experimenting with different finishing options and mash bills.”

Along with a potential name change and rebranding, immediate work to increase the size of the tasting room and offering more educational experiences are in the works. “I’m most excited about adding several interactive demonstrations for visitors to get more hands-on with the distilling process and learn the science behind fermentation and distillation,” Brent says.

To purchase all of Hammer Spring products, customers need to head directly to the distillery.  

3697 West 1987 South, Building 5, Salt Lake City, UT 


Open Wednesday through Friday 1-6pm and Saturday noon to 5pm

Sara and Rob Sergent, co-founders of Alpine Distilling. Photo courtesy of Alpine Distilling.
Sara and Rob Sergent, co-founders of Alpine Distilling. Photo courtesy of Alpine Distilling.

Alpine Distilling

Alpine Distilling is truly a distilling marriage made in heaven. The co-founders and couple, Sara and Rob Sergent, moved from Louisiana to Utah and founded Alpine Distilling in Park City in the spring of 2017. 

Post-military career, Rob and Sara took the opportunity to start anew with a business that celebrated their interests and talents. Both passionate distillers and flavorists, Sara crafts the gin while Rob creates the seven whiskey products in their lineup. 

Rob has Kentucky in his blood — having been born there — so it’s no surprise that his whiskey portfolio reflects his heritage, even sourcing Kentucky yeast. And Rob truly loves whiskey.

Alpine uses grains from a variety of US farms to create their two primary mash bills: a “wheated bourbon” of corn, wheat and barley, and a “single malt” from 100% malted barley. 

The Alpine Rye Whiskey, Traveler’s Rest Single Malt Whiskey, and Alpine Barrel Proof Single Malt Whiskey were all made with Utah-grown grain. The barley for the Alpine Barrel Proof is grown, malted, mashed, fermented, distilled, aged and bottled in Utah making for a 100% made-in-Utah product. 

The whiskies are distilled on an American pot still and aged in toasted American Oak barrels (Appalachian Oak and Arkansas Oak) from two cooperages that provide toasting and char levels specified by Alpine.  

Visit the Park City Social Aid & Pleasure Club for cocktails using Alpine Distilling spirits and get answers to all your questions about their products.

364 Main Street, Park City, UT


Wednesday through Saturday 4-10pm, Sunday 2-7pm

Featured Image by Kaelyn Korte

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