When New Deal Distillery started in 2004, founder Tom Burkleaux and then co-founder, Matthew VanWinkle had a simple business plan: sell one bottle to one stranger off of a liquor store shelf. Tom Burkleaux calls this period “the wilderness”, the time when they began to learn their craft in the smallest licensed distillery in America. The basic formula they used then still holds true today: make it simple, make it right.
When New Deal began production, there were only a handful of craft distilleries in America. New Deal was the first distillery in what is now Portland’s Distillery Row, and the second modern distillery in Portland, after Clear Creek Distillery. Over the years, as other distilleries began to operate in Portland’s Southeast Industrial District, we carried forward the tradition of cooperation from craft breweries: Portland’s distilleries helped one another flourish and the concept of Portland’s Distillery Row began to take shape.
The spirits enthusiasts of the world were ready for a craft distilling movement, and what better place than the Pacific Northwest. As Tom stated, “I believe the craft distilling industry couldn’t exist without craft breweries and all the local and farm-to-table movements in food. Also, the appreciation of artisan and craft you find in cities like Portland. Without them, our customers wouldn’t exist.”
New Deal has thrived with the encouragement and support of local businesses and individuals in the community, and we try to keep our business in the local sphere whenever possible. For example, we commissioned a custom-made still from Global Stainless in Canby, Oregon, we use Bob’s Red Mill grains and sugars for whiskey and rum fermentations and liqueur sweeteners, and buy coffee beans from Water Avenue Coffee Roasters for our Coffee Liqueur.
We invite you to try one of our many award-winning craft spirits and you just might find that one bottle could change your world.