West Virginia Executive Summer 2014 - Page 100

thoroughly researched the industry, including state and federal regulations. “We also asked questions of every person— master distillers from other companies; equipment, grain and yeast suppliers and industry veterans—that would take our calls,” describes Little. “The saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is appropriate. It takes a village to start a distillery.” Even though Little admits he had no prior experience in business or spirits before this endeavor, his enthusiasm and drive is evident to those around him. “John is a natural in this business and engages 100 west virginia executive the best and most experienced distillers to coach him,” praises Galyean. “In my opinion, John Little is the next best guy—a whiskey rock star.” Galyean, on the other hand, is an established entrepreneur who grew up in the car business and now owns TAG Studio in Lewisburg. His design portfolio is made up of an extensive list of luxury locations like The Greenbrier, The Broadmoor, Casa Palmero at Pebble Beach and even Smooth Ambler itself. “Using practical, traditional forms and contemporary efficiencies of systems and materials, we have created a welcoming symbol of who we are and a proud place to work,” says Galyean. “Of course, we had lots of physical requirements regarding location, permitting and utilities, as well. We anticipated having parties and special events at the Stillhouse. Our tasting room with windows on the production area is popular with folks passing through, as well as a spot where some locals take a break.” Smooth Ambler Spirits’ current product list consists of Whitewater Vodka, Greenbrier Gin, Barrel Aged Greenbrier Gin, Old Scout, Old Scout Rye and Yearling Bourbon Whiskey. “Our recipes have been mostly trial and error,” says Little. “We have had some pointers from some consultants. We’ve made hundreds of recipes, and now, we make seven to eight. That’s not to say we don’t try to improve, because we are always trying to make improvements on yield and flavor, but we are conscious on maintaining consistency so our customers stay happy.” Since opening their doors in 2010, Smooth Ambler’s production has doubled its sales every year. It currently sells its products in 35 states and five markets overseas. “Getting products into stores is fairly easy,” says Little. “Getting it to leave the shelves is the hard part. We’ve been lucky to work with good distributors and retailers, and we work hard to visit the markets and spend time with both of them. We want them to know our story, to know us personally and to educate the