Farm To Bartop for Dry Hills Distillery & Bozeman Life Magazine 
Last year I had the pleasure to meet with Jeff and Erica Droge, the founders of Dry Hills Distillery in Four Corners, Montana. Their distillery is different than most. All of the spirits distilled here come from ingredients their family harvests on fifth-generation family farmland in the Gallatin Valley of Montana.

When we sat down, the entire Droge family along with Dry Hills Distillery’s head distiller Brooks Marshall had just accomplished an incredible feat; unveiling a Montana Bottled-in-Bond Wheat Whiskey.

Since then they have accomplished many other feats in the world of distilling fine craft spirits. With their mission: “To make real craft spirits the right way, even if it means doing it the hard way,” they are sure to continue building on the entire Droge family legacy.

Read my full article published in @bozemancitylifestyle by clicking HERE

Article Photography: @cinematic_spirit / @misa_rae_photography / Conrob Photography / Venema Photography / Jeff Droge

Portfolio Photography: Wyatt Snell
One hundred fifteen years ago in the Dry Hills of Montana, a fifth-generation standing legacy was born. Jeff and Erica Droge understand legacy. In fact, you could say that it is one of the main driving forces behind many actions they take. As the founders of Dry Hills Distillery, they have perfected an art: taking fresh farm-grown ingredients and distilling them into bottles of the finest craft spirits.
Jacob Droge homesteaded in the Gallatin Valley near Manhattan, Montana in 1905. Over 100 years later, those same fields are Droge Farms, Inc. The grounds have been passed down through the generations and continue to produce potatoes and grains. Fertile soil and pure Montana mountain water feed the ingredients harvested here. 
Three Brothers, Terrence Droge the oldest, Tim Droge the middle, and Jeff Droge the youngest grew up working the land that their Great Great Grandfather settled, alongside their father Glenn who continues to operate it. As the boys grew up, Tuesday night became established as “Brother Night .” In their youth they would spend time together wrenching on cars and getting into the types of trouble one would imagine three brothers could. As years passed, The Pony Bar became their hangout after hours in the field. As they collectively ran their bar tab up they began dreaming of creating vodka from the family’s harvested, oversized seed potatoes.
All three continue to work Droge Farms, but they kept an eye out for their own stake. Terrence and his wife Calette branched out and started London Hills Farm in Harrison, MT. Tim became their father’s right-hand man and farm manager on Droge Farms along with the help of his wife Amber. Terrence and Tim also formed Dry Hills Grain Farm in the upper hills above Droge Farms. This is when Erica Droge entered the picture. She listened to Jeff speak about the brothers’ dream of creating a Vodka from the oversized and awkwardly shaped seed potatoes that did not appeal to buyers. She helped push Jeff to form a plan to turn the Droge Brothers’ dream into a reality. Over the course of four years, they would sit down after days working the farm and make progress on a business venture to turn their family’s harvest into fine craft spirits. Once they had built their plan Erica presented Jeff with tickets to a course at Moonshine University in Louisville, Kentucky. 
Jeff and Erica arrived at the course on a Sunday and “it just felt right.” A week later, they walked out with new knowledge and inspiration from the “Greats.” The course gave them an opportunity to meet master distillers, such as Jimmy Russel - 60 year Master Distiller for Wild Turkey and Randy Allender - retired Master Distiller for Jim Beam. Jeff noticed that even after all these years, the greats still carry a deep-rooted passion for their craft, to them it’s an art. 
Jeff humbly speaks of a moment when he met with Jimmy Russel alone, where he shared his plans to create Dry Hills Distillery, using fresh ingredients from the family farm and turning them into fine distilled spirits. Jimmy responded, “if you can do that, I will be envious of you.” “I can control every aspect of Wild Turkey’s distilling process other than the ingredients we get, that is the most important.” “It’s kind of like life, if you put good in, you’ll get good out.” “The same concept works with spirits.” 
As soon as they got home, Jeff and Erica took massive action towards opening Dry Hills Distillery. 
Brooks Marshall is the head distiller of Dry Hills. He and Jeff met by chance as The Droge’s were in the planning process of this venture. As soon as Jeff and Erica returned from the course, Brooks jumped in on the entire building process of Dry Hills Distillery. Working together they selected the best equipment, and once they had the correct licensing they began making small batches of clear spirits to unveil in their newly constructed tasting room. On March 23, 2016 (Erica’s Birthday)  Dry Hills Distillery opened its doors with 100% seed to bottle clear spirits. Not long after they added a farm-grown wheat whiskey to their flight, and have continued adding other spirits such as Gins and different selections of Vodkas and Whiskeys.
In November of 2020, Dry Hills unveiled a Montana first. Their Montana Bottled-in-Bond Wheat Whiskey. The significance of this title shows Dry Hills dedication to the craft. In order to be eligible for a Bottled-in-Bond Spirit, the distilling process must take place in one distillation season, overseen by one distiller during the entire four-year minimum aging process, and then bottled at 100 proof. This achievement shows not only the level of quality Dry Hills puts into their process but also the dedication their head distiller Brooks has put into crafting these fine spirits. When Jeff and Erica first founded Dry Hills Distillery, they had one thing in mind, “Make real craft spirits the right way, even if it meant doing it the hard way.” This title further proves they are doing just that. 
As Jeff and Erica continue building upon their family’s legacy, they are looking to the future. Dry Hills Distillery is quickly approaching its five year anniversary, and they are looking to unveil a 100% Montana grown and distilled Bourbon. Jeff mentions the significance of this, is that bourbon is really the only true American spirit. Circling back to the inspiration they got from their time in Kentucky the excitement behind a bourbon comes from using their family’s Montana, USA farm-grown ingredients to craft the truest form of American Spirits. 
The Droge family has continued growing, and Brooklynn, who is Jeff and Erica’s daughter now has her stake in the Dry Hills Distillery. On the day she was born Brooks Marshall laid down a barrel of bourbon to age. Brooklynn’s Single Malt Bourbon. Each year on her birthday Brooks will lay down more barrels of different malt bourbons. Each one will be a bit different depending on that year’s harvest. This is just one example of how as the Droge family continues to grow and build upon what their great-great grandfather started 115 years ago their legacy will continue to hold true in the Gallatin Valley.
February, 2021

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