PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — When Freeland Spirits opened in Northwest Portland in 2017, Master Distiller Molly Troupe was only 27 — the youngest female distiller in the United States.
Troupe leads the charge on their gin and bourbon, the science behind the spirits and the convenience of making them all under one roof.
The vision for Freeland Spirits came from founder Jill Kuehler’s grandmother Meemaw‘s work ethic.
“She was a little unusual for her time,” Troupe said of Meemaw. “She was the breadwinner. She taught Jill all good things come from the Earth and women can be whatever they want to be.”
This women-led business is seeing more women customers, too. Freeland Spirits is expanding to the new PDX terminal in 2024 and will have a tasting room when it opens.
What may seem like complicated science to most people is fun and fascinating work for Troupe. She pointed to their pot-column still from Germany that is all copper contact on the inside surrounded by a stainless steel water bath.
“For gin we’re making here, we do a maceration where all the botanicals are sitting with alcohol and then we start the still, apply heat, add the separation of alcohol from everything else that’s in there – and we get this beautiful gin distilled,” she told KOIN 6 News.
With whiskey the process is a little different.
“We are starting with grain base and then we’re going to do a whole fermentation process. Once that’s finished, we’re gonna put it into the still, again apply heat, and get alcohol at the end.”
When they get that alcohol into what they call “a flavor bomb,” Troupe said they are trying spruce tips for their next gin product.
“When it comes out (it’s) super fragrant, fresh, we’re doing a variety of different fresh things that can be found in a forest for a new product, Forest Gin,” she said.
Molly Troupe took a slightly different path to becoming a master distiller.
“At 13 years old, I decided I wanted to be a forensic anthropologist, and to become that, I actually ended up going to college for chemistry with an emphasis in forensics,” she said. “Forensics didn’t work out but I fell in love with chemistry and all its applications — and of course, distillation happens to be one of them.”
She said she was always fascinated with this technology.
“You often see it in different laboratories, pharmaceuticals, in a totatly different application. So it’s a solvent remover, and for us, the solvent is alcohol. And instead of that being a waste product for us, that’s actually what we’re after.”
The people at Freeland Spirits also get to tap into their creative side when coming up with cocktails, like the Bloomtown Gimlet that Tasting Room Manager Shalene Dailey shook up.
“Every home bartender can make this drink and it’s a classic cocktail,” Dailey said. (Recipe below)
She added that what she loves about Freeland Spirits is that it is a welcoming place for customers as well as the people who work there.
It lives up to what Meemaw personified: Setting the example for strong, independent women.
“It’s still a relatively small team,” Troupe said, “but we’re continuing to really highlight women in leadership positions.”
1 ounce Freeland gin
1 ounce Freeland Cherry Blossom liqueur
1 ounce lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup
For extra fun, put a little edible glitter to give it sparkle
4 dashes of cherry bark vanilla bitters
4 dashes of yuzu bitters
Vegan alternative to egg white
Shake for 15 to 20 seconds
Strain into cocktail glass
Garnish with a small fresh flower