Thinking that it should be a lot of fun, two friends are opening a distillery in downtown Billings, adding a new dimension to the building commonly known as the “old Spaghetti Depot,” 2223 Montana Avenue.
The Asylum Distillery, Inc. is expected to be open by April 1 by entrepreneurs, Bob Ochsner and Ted Reichert. They are looking forward to becoming part of the growing popularity of Montana Avenue as a scene for socializing, food, drink and entertainment. “The more the merrier,” said Ochsner, in laying forth their plans. They think their choice of location is just perfect.
The distillery will produce vodka, gin, rum, and eventually whiskey. Reichert will also be producing his specialty spirits of flavored moonshine.
While they are still waiting on licensing from the Federal and state governments, the partners are moving forward with the renovation of the 2000-square-foot area that will eventually accommodate four stills, a processing and bottling area, and liquor storage space, as well as a tasting room that will seat about 20 people.
Ochsner and Reichert are miners. They work together on the job, and are looking forward to extending their friendship as partners in the new business. For the time being they are looking at Asylum Distillery as a side venture, but who knows, it could grow into something more, said Ochsner. “If it happens, it happens,” he said, “I think it has potential.”
Ochsner became interested in distilling liquor through conversations with a friend who is a chemist. “We have been discussing making liquor,” said Ochsner, “and I got interested in this.”
Their goal is to produce handcrafted, high quality spirits using locally grown ingredients.
It takes a couple of weeks to do “a run.” Each still will produce about 30 gallons each run. Ochsner said he hopes to have inventory of about 100 cases by the time they open in April. Once they are in full production with the inventory they need, they plan to begin production of keg whiskey.
While Ochsner and Reichert will be the distillers, they plan to hire one or two others to help in the tasting room. By state law they can only serve their own product, and they can serve each customer only two drinks, and customers are restricted to two purchases of bottled liquor a day. Their hours are also governed by state law.