On July 18, 2015, Stumpy’s Spirits Distillery opened with a plan to be one of few craft distilleries that go from grain to glass.
That idea has resonated with customers, as the distillery has seen growth in numerous areas, including sales, which have gone up by hundreds of percent each year.
“Business has been absolutely crazy so far,” farmer and distiller Adam Stumpf said. “We started out just selling at the distillery here. We’re now distributing throughout Illinois and Missouri.”
Stumpf said the distillery, which he co-owns with wife Laura, sells products as far as five hours away near the Illinois-Wisconsin border. But the majority of sales are far closer to the rural Columbia company.
“The vast majority of our business is coming within about a 40-mile radius of the distillery, with Waterloo being a huge driver of that volume,” Stumpf said. “And that’s great.”
That strong local customer base is deliberate.
“It’s always been our focus that we want to go super deep at home first before moving out to different states,” Stumpf noted. “We would rather be selling the vast majority of our volume within a very tight radius then grow that out in circles.”
As those circles have gotten bigger, so has the operation at Stumpy’s.
The distillery opened selling just vodka and white whiskey. Now, it offers two types of vodka, bourbon, four flavors of whiskey and gin.
Each of those drinks have something in common – they are all made from grains grown on the Stumpf family’s eighth generation farm, which is also the distillery location.
Stumpf rents the 10 acres the distillery sits on from his father and uncle, who manage the family farm. He also rents 50 acres of land around the distillery for making his products, farming it entirely by himself when possible.
In addition to growing its own wheat, barley, rye and corn, Stumpy’s uses limestone well water in its process. It also does everything, from cleaning the grain to distilling it, on-site.
That makes Stumpy’s one of only three single-source distilleries in the country, according to Stumpf.
“It really parallels the farm-to-table movement that you’re seeing in food right now,” Stumpf said. “We’re like the farm-to-bottle movement, if that’s a thing. We’re trying to put a taste of our region inside of every bottle we do.”
Among his products, Stumpf said Old Monroe Single Barrel Bourbon is the most popular. He attributed that to the general popularity of bourbon and value of the alcohol.
“Having a completely single-sourced bourbon priced reasonably compared to other craft bourbons and aged, honestly, a little longer than a lot of craft bourbons, we’ve been able to put a lot of value in that bottle at a relatively low price,” Stumpf said.
Aside from increasing its products, the distillery has grown in other ways.
As it has racked up milestones, such as adding new distillation equipment last March, it has also added employees. Eight people, besides friends and family, now work for the company.
That has come as sales have increased. Even with more product going out, Stumpf said he and his brother, who helps operate the distillery, are making more products than they sell so it can age properly.
“We’re probably the fourth highest volume distillery in the state,” Stumpf said. “We’re producing and barreling probably more than 10 times more than we’re selling to plan for the future.”
Even so, Stumpf said the team can struggle to meet demands.
To help in that area, the distillery began construction of a new rickhouse on its property. The facility will house a portion of the distillation process, such as cleaning the grains after they come from the field.
Mainly, however, it will serve as a storage area that will allow the business to increase its capacity to 10 times what it is now.
Currently, the Stumpfs can make fewer than 10 barrels of alcohol a week, but this new facility will facilitate them making 10 per day.
Stumpf said customers will see this in the availability of Stumpy’s products, especially the bourbon.
The new building will also help the brewery in other ways.
“It’s also going to allow us to expand our distribution footprint and really go a lot more concentrated farther out to Illinois and Missouri,” Stumpf said. “It’s also going to help us out with innovation. We’re going to be able to release other types of products out into the market, as far as aged whiskeys are concerned.”
In addition to its business growing, Stumpy’s Spirits Distillery recently saw a ninth generation added to the family, with Adam and Laura having their first child, Charlotte, last month.
The couple had put off starting a family to devote more time to the business, but Stumpf said now was the right time.
“To be able to have the time now to set aside and start a new family has been absolutely incredible,” he said. “Of anything that we’ve done, that’s definitely the most rewarding.”
Stumpy’s Spirits Distillery is located at 1727 Centerville Road. To learn more, call 281-7733 or visit stumpysspirits.com.