Jun 06, 2016
Founded: January 2015
Owning and operating a distillery within Utah can be a challenge. Operations are heavily regulated by the state of Utah and the federal government. So it makes sense that Kirk Sedgwick, owner of Outlaw Distillery, is very careful when he explains how long he’s been in the business of distilling alcohol.
“We began operating in January of 2015,” Sedgwick says. After working for nearly three decades as a large diesel repairman, Sedgwick decided to venture into another field and make a few personal dreams come true.
“My job was taking a toll on my body,” Sedgwick explains, “and it was getting to the point where I really hated my job.”
Before opening, the first order of business was finding a name. Sedgwick wanted to reference Utah’s rich history while steering clear of another religious or Mormon pun. “I was sick of the puns, and I thought, demographically, they really lock you in. They don’t make sense outside of Utah. So we named it after Butch Cassidy, who was born in Beaver, Utah, and the outlaw trail which ran from Mexico to Canada and goes through Utah.”
Sedgwick now oversees the manufacturing of rum, spiced rum, white whiskey, bourbon whiskey, and Outlaw’s own moonshine.
“I’m definitely glad I made the job change,” he says. “I just enjoy everything about this business. I love being my own boss and being able to sponsor events in the community. I don’t think there’s a single association that has come to us that we have turned down.”
Outlaw Distillery looks to local farmers for most of their ingredients: grain, corn, wheat and oats. All of it comes from Utah. “And our labels are done locally here as well. As much as we can possibly can, we try to use products from other Utah small businesses. We need to try to keep each other alive.”
After a strong start in Utah, Sedgwick is ready to look out of state. This means tackling new regulations, licenses and finding a distribution partner, but Sedgwick is determined to press on. “You hear horror stories,” he says of finding a distribution partner, “but you do your research, you look into their background, and you do what you can. I wish I could be my own distributor, but the states do not allow it.”
Challenge: Getting their name out. Denise Sedgwick, Kirk’s wife and business partner, admits getting the word out has been a challenge. “But we’re starting to get recognition,” she says. “We see our stickers on cars. We see people wearing our stuff at concerts. It’s cool.”
Opportunities: Expanding out of Utah. “We are in 34 of the 44 state-run liquor stores,” Sedgwick says. “The next logical step is to move on a little bit.”
Need: Simply, money. Outlaw Distillery was grown organically with the Sedgwicks’ own money. “We started this with less than $90,000,” Sedgwick says. “And it has grown with our own blood, sweat and tears. We own everything and build as the cash comes in. But an infusion of cash would help us expand and advertise.”