Find Upcoming Bourbon Women Events Here
Brooke Glover is the President and Co-Founder of Swilled Dog Hard Cider & Spirits in West Virginia. She runs the day-to-day operations making cider and spirits, and if there’s one thing she loves more it’s her rescue dog, Lucy Pickles.
BW: How does your West Virginia bourbon differ from other bourbons?
BG: All of our Swilled Dog cider and spirits were created to celebrate the best of West Virginia. Great bourbon starts with great ingredients. We feel that the corn grown right here in Upper Tract, WV, home to our production facility, is a solid foundation for great bourbon. Starting with the upcoming 2021 harvest, we are doubling down on hyper-local and will be sourcing all of our corn from the fields that surround our distillery which have a long history of quality family farming. This will provide a unique sense of time and place for our bourbons and whiskeys that we are thrilled to showcase and explore. Additionally, we use locally sourced American white oak barrels from our home cooperage, West Virginia Great Barrel Company, which sources American white oak within a 200-mile radius. A lot of production in West Virginia has centered around clear spirits, moonshine, and/or flavored spirits. However, there are great bourbons and whiskeys made right here in West Virginia by a small number of distillers, and we want to help elevate the category by helping to shine a spotlight on the state, our region, our ingredients, and our take on bourbon.
Great bourbon and whiskey take time. We are laying down our barrels, making the investment to showcase our regionality on the beverage. As we build out our spirits program, we are also selectively sourcing high-quality whiskeys and bourbons from a trusted network we are building in the industry. Our view is to find flavor profiles that we believe will be complimentary to spirits produced in-house and that one day could be displayed as a marriage of the two. Also, something that is unique to Swilled Dog, at least one percent of annual sales benefit our favorite animal charities.
BW: How did you arrive at the decision to start making whiskey after focusing on cider?
BG: We love the beverage category in general, and we like to make what we enjoy. We are particularly passionate about whiskey and other spirits, and I personally felt that there was room for more women in the industry – both as producers and consumers. In addition, and with that in mind, we felt that by introducing our line of Swilled Dog Infusions that could be paired with our spirits, we could make our spirits more approachable and attract new consumers to the category. Our infusions are a nice way for whiskey novices to dip their toes into the category and try it in a way they’ve never seen. As a majority female-owned company, it is natural for us to make sure we are being as inclusive and welcoming to all consumers as possible.
BW: What does a typical day at the distillery look like for you?
BG: The majority of my day is spent at the computer and on the phone talking to retailers, distributors, and customers. I am responsible for many different facets of our Swilled Dog’s day-to-day operations, including marketing and sales, and much of that seems to happen through technology right now. Just like many people today, I spend a lot of time on virtual meetings. I love connecting with everyone, but I don’t love putting on makeup – what happened to the good old-fashioned phone call? Other than game planning with our production team, my favorite thing to do every day at the distillery (besides snuggling my pup, Lucy Pickles) is talk to customers and retailers. I love getting an in-person visit, phone call, or email – good or bad – that gives me a chance to gain feedback about our beverages. Getting the chance to talk with a customer about our brand is so special to me, and I think it’s that personal touch that gives us our ability to understand our customers well.
BW: What advice do you have for women wanting to start a distillery?
BG: Focus on a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. You are going to make mistakes and fail but fail fast. Don’t dwell on mistakes, and don’t be scared to ask questions in order to have continuous improvement. And remember, this business is meant to be fun!
BW: Tell me about your perfect West Virginia Whiskey weekend.
BG: My perfect West Virginia whiskey weekend includes adventure and visiting some of the other amazing distilleries in the state in the early Fall. I’d start on a Friday evening at Swilled Dog for some of our rye whiskey and bourbon, good music, and the beautiful fall foliage. Early in the morning (but not too early) I’d get up to do some hiking and climbing at the gorgeous Seneca Rocks. After that, I’d head over to Still Hollow and do a tasting of their newest small-batch bourbons. That late afternoon, I’d hit the road to Greenbrier County for a visit to Smooth Ambler for some of their Contradiction followed by an overnight stay at The Greenbrier and a Swilled Dog whiskey cocktail at the Café Carleton. The next morning, I’d head to our new national park, New River Gorge National Park, for some white water rafting. After that, I’d head back to Swilled Dog for some West Virginia pepperoni rolls and spending time with family and friends.
Photos Courtesy of Brooke Glover