In the last couple of weeks I've visited two of Utah's newest distilleries: Sugar House (James Fowler and Dan Feldman) in South Salt Lake is making vodka with whiskey in its future, and Beehive Distillery (Matt Aller and Chris Barlow) in Salt Lake is making gin.
Sugar House is making its ultra-premium spirits using local wheat, barley, corn, honey, and fresh water.
The clear liquor they're producing right now is a forerunner to the aged product which, obviously, takes more time. But using smaller barrels will cut down the aging time and they hope to have whiskey in 6-8 months. When I visited, they were waiting on labels. The good news: Since they're in South Salt Lake, they'll be able to have a package store and tasting room once they're up and running.
Beehive Gin is a little further along, although it took months to put together a mix of botanicals they liked. (Turns out that Utah desert juniper is the wrong kind.) They're bottling a crystal-clear, London-dry style gin called jackrabbit now,
but have wilder plans for the future: They brought a couple of chardonnay barrels back from Napa, dismantled them and re-charred the inside and are now aging gin in oak.
Beehive is available by special order–Takashi's is featuring a cocktail using it, and the few bottles that made it to the shelves of the wine store were snapped up quickly.
Yes, I've tasted both. And they are good to go.