Despite snags, Billings distillery nears completion (Billings Gazette)A little too much vodka or gin might occasionally cause a few hiccups, but for Trailhead Spirits — a soon-to-open distillery on Montana Avenue — a few hiccups have meant a delay in getting any vodka or gin at all.
Casey McGowan, who owns the business in the former Beanery building at 2314 Montana Ave. with his wife, Steffanie, hoped to begin distilling vodka, gin and whiskey locally this month and start pouring around Christmas.
He's worked through just about all of the tedious permitting and paperwork needed to distill and sell alcohol.
But progress hit a snag when installers from the manufacturer coming from Hungary were turned back because their paperwork wasn't in order.
"They had some issues at immigration," McGowan said. "When they said they're coming here to do some work, they didn't let them in and sent them back" to Hungary.
The parts and equipment are in Billings and are clearly labeled with photo instructions.
So the McGowans gathered a team of family, friends, employees and a project manager from the manufacturer who lives in California to begin the assembly.
With the help of the California project manager communicating online and by phone, they should be able to get everything installed, just a little later than expected.
"There's nothing we can do, other than figure it out," McGowan said. "I think we're making good progress."
The still and seven tanks — which have a 300-liter capacity — are high-tech and custom made for Trailhead's needs and space requirement, with a complex electrical control system that includes pneumatic and electronic valves.