Three Oaks Journeyman part of distillery boom
THREE OAKS, Mich. – Beyond the taproom and through a sheet of glass Bill Welter runs his fingers through, what he calls, organic grain.
“This is about 2000 pounds of grain,” Welter explained. “So this would probably make about three barrels of whiskey.” Welter oversees the distilling of liquor at Journeyman Distillery, a business he opened near downtown Three Oaks in October of 2011.
“I don’t know if I had any expectations,” said Welter of his decision to open a craft distillery. “I can tell you we’re pleased with the number of people that are hearing about the distillery.”
Welter admits that he knew he was entering a booming industry. “It’s a lot like micro-breweries in the 1980s.”
According to the American Distilling Institute, in 2000 there were only 24 craft distilleries in the United States. By the end of 2011 the number had grown to 235. In 2008 only four craft distilleries existed in Michigan, now there are more than 20.
“Everybody seems to like that tour aspect,” said Tiffany Daugherty an employee of Journeyman. “It’s almost like an adventure.”
“The younger generation is getting interested in old things and bringing it back in a new way,” said patron Elaine Jozwiak.
“They’re looking for something hand-crafted, locally made and they want to support the little guy now,” said Welter.