HELENA — One bad apple can ruin the whole bunch, right? If that’s true, what can a whole community of good apples accomplish? The answer is a truly made in Montana brandy from Gulch Distillery in downtown Helena, supplied by the community.
“Well it was in 2016, it was a big apple year, big bumper crop around town. We never had any plans to produce anything with apples but there was so many apples on the neighborhood trees around town that people were asking us left and right if we had any use for them," Gulch Distillery co-owner Tyrell Hibbard told MTN. "So, we put our heads together to figure out what we could do and decided we’d give it a shot, so we started collecting apples. We learned a lot that year, in terms of how to process them and how to make brandy."
For at least the next month you can round up any apples you might have in that backyard tree and bring them down to the distillery. 30 pounds worth and you get yourself a drink token (if you are 21-years-old). But the warm fuzzy feeling that cocktail gives is nothing compared to the warm and fuzzy feeling of being part of a product that is distinctly Helena.
“My business partner Steffen and I both grew up here, we’re Helena kids and we see this business as an extension of the community and as part of the community," said Hibbard. "We can actively engage anybody in the community who has excess apples that are just clogging up the lawn, we’ll take those and convert them into cocktails.”
If your apples aren’t exactly pristine – Gulch Distillery won’t hold it against you.
“We have a pretty, we can accept a wide spectrum of apple sizes and quality," added Hibbard. "We’re trying to collect enough so we can have a critical mass so we can make this product.”