Beehive Distilling was founded in 2013 on the concept that gin shouldn’t taste like a citrus drink, nor like a cleaning fluid. 

Five years later, the popular distiller of Jack Rabbit Gin and Barrel Aged Gin has outgrown its small warehouse location and now occupies a 10,000-square-foot production facility at 2245 S. West Temple, where it showcases its new 450-gallon still and is preparing to open a restaurant.

The new location and equipment have allowed Beehive Distilling to expand its products to include spirits such as whiskey, rum and brandy, says co-owner and head distiller Chris Barlow. In 2017, Beehive Distillery sold more than 2,800 cases of gin and organic vodka, mostly in Utah, but also in Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and California. It’s primary sales sources include retailers, distributors and liquor stores.

Barlow, with co-owners Matt Aller and Erik Ostling, began their labor of love in a Salt Lake City industrial park, distilling their first gin product in a small, 80-gallon still that now sits beside their state-of-the-art 450-gallon still. After graduating from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, the business received an invitation to apply for a State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grant, which is administered by WTC Utah to help small Utah businesses grow and expand in dynamic global markets.

The STEP program is funded in part through a grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The program aims to increase the number of small businesses exporting in Utah, increase revenues and sales of Utah-made goods and services, and increase Utah’s gross domestic product through international trade.

Beehive Distillery jumped at the chance to apply for the grant and used the matching funds to participate in the recent Governor-led trade mission to Taiwan and South Korea. Barlow says that experience was eye-opening. “We have always wanted to sell our products in other countries, but never really knew how to get started in exporting,” he explains. “The trade mission was a powerful experience and helped us establish some key contacts with distributors in Taiwan and South Korea.”

The company is now working on enhancing relationships with the contacts it made on the trade mission while also working on its international strategy. Barlow and his partners hope the unique qualities that have made Beehive Distilling’s gin products popular domestically will lead to loyal customers abroad.

“We work in a niche market,” says Barlow, “but we are finding foreign niche markets, as well.”

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