Sponsored by Oregon Business

Portland craft distillers grow up, evolve

| Print |  Email
Articles - August 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
0810_Distilleries01
Christian Krogstad of House Spirits Distillery on the bottling line of his Krogstad Aquavit, a liquor based on a traditional Scandinavian recipe. Krogstad is a founding member of House Spirits, which hopes to take on investors to grow its business.

SHAKEN AND STIRRED

STORY BY LUCY BURNINGHAM // PHOTOS BY PAULA WATTS

A tanned, barefoot Rod “Harry” Harris splashed some amber whiskey into glasses from aboard the RoLin, his 70-foot yacht moored in Portland’s RiverPlace marina. Harris helped make the spirit himself at House Spirits, a small-batch distillery in Portland, as part of the Whiskey Your Way program, which allows participants to blend and age their own 15-gallon barrel of whiskey for $4,900.

The liquid got him thinking. Two years into retirement, he needed a project. And not only did he like whiskey, he liked the liquor industry. Harris started talking about buying a controlling interest in House Spirits; founding owner Christian Krogstad was ready to grow the business. Harris saw the possibility as a karmic extension of his past life. “I’m trying to give a little love back to some entrepreneurs, which I didn’t have time to do when I was running my own business,” he says.

Harris founded Harry’s Fresh Foods in 1978, a fresh and prepared foods company in Portland. When he sold the company in 2007, it was reporting $70 million in annual sales. With experience running such a large-scale business, and available capital, Harris and like-minded investors represent a ripe opportunity for the local artisan distilling industry. While Harris decided not to invest in House Spirits, Krogstad had discussed developing a national brand that would eventually entice a large, national buyer. “These guys just need capitalization and a strong plan,” Harris says.

It’s a need many of Portland’s artisan distillers share, a fact that’s become increasingly obvious during the past year. The city’s high concentration of local distillers, which produce everything from organic vodkas to fruit brandies, has inspired countless articles and glowing reviews from local and national publications. But the high profile doesn’t erase the financial challenges. The Oregon Distillers Guild has 19 members, up from 16 since 2008, but it’s the loose collection of four Eastside Portland craft distillers who call themselves Distillery Row that is a more accurate microcosm of the evolving industry. Tough times have forced some to close, while survivors are eyeing the possibility of fast growth.



 

More Articles

Downtown flower shop readies for the Valentine's Day rush

The Latest
Monday, February 09, 2015
021015-giffords-thumbBY MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Gifford's Flowers brings family approach to PSU-area shop.


Read more...

100 Best: The Power of the Worker

March 2015
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
AND AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Technology is empowering people like never before and transforming how employees interact in the workplace. How can companies attract and keep staff engaged in this rapidly changing world?


Read more...

Emperor of the Sea

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan

Pacific Seafood, one of the world’s largest processors, is rebranding as a more transparent and consumer-friendly operation. A controversial CEO and monopoly accusations from coastal fishermen complicate the tale.


Read more...

Letting Go

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

As baby boomers sell their businesses, too many forget the all-important succession plan.


Read more...

10 quotes explaining crisis at Port of Portland

The Latest
Friday, February 20, 2015
022015 port portland OBM-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The ongoing labor disputes at the Port of Portland came to a head two weeks ago when Hanjin, the container port's largest client, notified its customers it would be ending its direct route to Oregon.


Read more...

Banking Perspective

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Craig Wanichek, president and CEO of Summit Bank.


Read more...

Opening soon: 3 of the coolest new breweries in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, March 19, 2015
brewthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

There are 278 companies licensed to operate as brewery, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Here are three new beer-making hubs slated to open soon.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS