Bearing a label that reads “Recession Proof Moonshine,” the trio’s triumph is bottled behind the storefront of an unassuming 2,900 square foot warehouse in the industrial region of Sparks, using nothing but a few pieces of antique machinery, a carefully resurrected technique and a whole lot of will power.
For the creators, each jar is a point of pride and the product of an entrepreneurial endeavor four years in the making. Seven Troughs Distilling Company is northern Nevada’s first licensed distillery since before prohibition.
Seven Troughs grand opening at the beginning of November was part of a revolution in Nevada liquor history. When Adams, Sullivan and Dondero initially decided to pursue their distilling dreams four years ago, the legal groundwork for small-scale craft distilling was virtually nonexistent in the state of Nevada. So, in late 2009 Adams helped draft the first version of a craft distilling law that would eventually pass in June of 2013.
Five months and 14 operating permits after the legislation was signed, Seven Troughs Distilling Co. was open for business.
In addition to an operating license, another product of the distillery’s lengthy legal process was the adaptation of its unique name. Originally, the owners had planned on marketing their product, using Nevada’s “Battle Born” slogan, but after coming up against piles of business licenses under the same name, the trio opted to find a more unique brand. During the brainstorming process, the three turned to a tried and true Nevada tradition: a hunting trip in the old Seven Troughs Mining District. The rest is history.
“In the middle of everything we decided ‘Let’s just go to Seven Troughs and go chukar hunting and figure out what to call it,’” Adams said. “(The name) just kind of stuck.”
Like their name, Seven Troughs products are true to Nevada. Ingredients for the company’s moonshine come from Nevada’s agricultural communities. The spent corn, wheat and malt mash remaining after distillation is picked up and used as feed by local pig farmers. The 160-proof “head shots” collected as a byproduct of the moonshine process are given to a local for use as bio-fuel. From Nevada dirt the products come, Adam explains, and into Nevada dirt they return.
In addition to practicing sustainability, Seven Troughs champions a sugar-free, 1900's-style process of producing its product. Corn, wheat and malt are ground with a 110-year-old grinder before being fermented in vintage oak barrels and distilled according to a process that “George Washington would be familiar with.” The result, Adams explains, is a focus on quality product over quantity, and a smooth liquor, perfect for sipping right out of the bottle.
“We were really looking for something that’s authentic,” Adams explains. “We grind it all. We mash it all. We ferment it all and we do it all right here … It really goes back to what America was all about: a small guy, doing his own thing.”
Local distilling enthusiast Rich Perry didn’t waste any time in stopping by Seven Troughs to check out its distilling process. It’s an inspiration, he says, to get pointers on the process from pioneers in Nevada’s craft distilling industry.
“When my wife told me there was a distillery in Sparks, I was reaching for my coat,” Perry said. “I really want to do this and these guys are like gods to me.”
And after years of research and hands-on experience, the owners of Seven Troughs are happy to lend guidance to those hoping to follow in their footsteps. In the future, they hope to be one of many small-scale distilleries in the area as craft distilling catches on across the state.
Two months after opening, sales of Seven Trough’s “Recession-Proof” moonshine are already covering the business’ operating costs, Adams says. Thanks to an outpouring of community support, the team is optimistic about expanding their range of products to include rye whiskey, vodka and rum later this year.
With all of their spirits, Seven Troughs owners aim to produce liquor that Nevadans can be proud to call their own.
“We wanted to make something that’s got a community interest and something with a backstory to it, something that’s going to enhance your experience – not just get you drunk,” Adams said. “We’re certainly geared toward the local Nevada scene. We were all born here. We were all raised here and we’re just trying to make it a better place.”