10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirit Company Video Spotlight
The idea of starting and operating a distillery seems adventurous for many aspiring entrepreneurs, but establishing a thriving craft spirits business requires much more than just passion. The most successful craft distillers have a focused and robust business plan that’s founded on quality products, a unique brand and a compelling story that’s deep-rooted into the community.
10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirit Company located in Vail and Gypsum, Colorado is a perfect example. Founders Ryan Thompson and Christian Avignon moved to Vail almost 20 years ago for the amazing skiing and outdoor lifestyle. Little did they know that their friendship would grow into starting Vail’s first distillery together.
“Sooner or later someone in town was going to start making spirits. It might as well be us,” says Ryan.
In 2012, Ryan and Christian opened their doors armed with a business plan and name that pays tribute to the famed 10th Mountain Army Division that had trained in nearby Camp Hale during the 1940s. This historical following was, and still is, something that profoundly resonates with locals and tourists in the Vail area. It’s also very personal for Christian since his grandfather served in this division. Honoring veterans and the military isn’t just something that Ryan and Christian speak about or slap on their bottles; it’s at the very core of their brand and the lifestyle that they live.
Two years ago, Ryan and Christian realized that they needed a financing partner to keep the business growing. That’s when they started getting stonewalled by local banks and lenders that didn’t understand the distilling industry. They finally connected with Live Oak Bank’s Distillery Loan Expert Jeff Clark.
After traveling from California to meet Ryan and Christian, Jeff quickly knew these guys possessed the determination and skills needed for booming business. Their following in the Vail area was eye-opening.
“If you don’t own your own backyard, I don’t know how you’re going to be able to takeover someone else’s,” says Jeff.
And, own their own backyard they did and still do. Ryan and Christian received the expansion capital they needed from Live Oak to take the business to the next level.
Today, 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirit Company continues to produce some of the finest craft spirits in the entire country while honoring the service of military veterans past and present. From their involvement with the local Vail Veterans Program to diversifying their mix of Colorado-inpsired spirits, the business is making a huge impact on so many lives.