The reason.

The genesis of our adventure.

A calling

We chose to pursue this insane business out of a love for whiskey first and foremost. We both enjoy whiskey neat, and it’s our spirit of choice. Green Door Distilling Co. also grew out of the need for an adventure, and to build something of our own to be proud of. Our foundation is also built on the idea that we want to make an incredible place for people to work. Due to our unhappiness with typical corporate culture in the Midwest, we’re on a mission to grow a culture that speaks for itself – one that people are engaged in, challenged by, trust in, and where their voice is listened to.

The research.

It’s a tough job, but…you know…

Global Travel Required.

Our adventure started in 2013, with Jon studying at home, and traveling to many distilleries in the Midwest to train and learn whatever he could about the industry; and Josh visiting every distillery and meeting every founder he could while traveling for a previous career.

Now, that’s the PC way to say it…realistically, it was a bit of the old adage “even a blind squirrel can find a nut.”

There was a lot of fumbling around, not even knowing the right questions to ask, but asking as much as possible. We occasionally crossed a line with owners, but they were still eager to help, and encouraged us as we were building the foundation of the distillery without a consultant or design team.

The Insanity Moments.

All In.

In the early stages of this adventure, we stuck our necks out there – WAY out there. Jon quit his engineering job in 2014, hoping that we’d be open in 9 months – well we blew well past that plan. Meanwhile, Josh was let go by his employer for being too involved in outside interests (city planning commission, StartupZoo, and of course, Green Door.) It’s bittersweet now, but looking back, two unemployed engineers without regular income, a five-year lease on property, and a still was just a bit risky. Everything we had went to launching our dream, and money was running out quickly. After five months of trying to sell our vision to investors, we had started to get a bit anxious.

Finally, after locking in the property and filing for our licenses, we got our first investor. We were so excited we splurged on a good lunch and a $50 dollar bottle of much needed whiskey. As the roller coaster of launching a business carried on, our second investor came on when we had overdrawn our account by 55 cents. It was both comical and nerve racking at the same time – yet makes us appreciate every ounce of progress.

The Renovation.

Blood, sweat, more blood, more sweat.

Measure twice, drink once.

After understanding some of these insanity moments, you’ll understand our philosophy on renovations. After crunching some budgets on our 4000 sq. ft facility, we realized we’d need at least $150,000 to build out the production area, remodel the tasting room, and freshen up the exterior to our vision. This wasn’t going to happen with the way our fundraising was going.

We’re pretty handy guys, and grew up doing remodeling and building in our families. We knew there was only one real option – to work on it ourselves, and turn to contractors only when it was required. One of the first justifying projects was grinding the old stained chipped production floor. Jon suggested right away doing the work ourselves, yet Josh wasn’t so keen to what sounded like a miserable project. After a couple of quotes came in at five-figures, Josh changed his tune.

This DIY approach didn’t come without hazards. From broken water lines, to a painful nail driven through a foot, it was both a learning experience and labor of love.

These sort of challenges reared their heads on nearly every major project – from concrete work to demolition to painting. Yet with every hurdle, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work! In the end, all of the manual labor and late nights paid off, and we had a paper trail for the building improvements.

The Name.

It’s a prohibition thing.

“GREEN DOOR!” That’s us shouting it out once we landed on the name. It’s been quite a journey to get to that name, starting with Lakeshore, then Revival, to finally Green Door. The whole process was exhausting from thinking of names, cutting them down to five or so, to sending them to an attorney in batches, and repeatedly getting denied.

After weeks of exhaustion, and a full year of names changes, we were sitting outside staring at the third 30 yard dumpster we had filled with demolition material. Josh thought, why not a color and an object – simple, right? We started spit-balling: blue bottle, red bottle, blue door, red roof, green door…we knew we were on to something and started vetting Green Door. Turns out, green door has ties to prohibition and speakeasies. It’s said that a green door or mark signified a speakeasy or safe place to go drink. We loved the concept, and moved forward with it.

The Still.

The story behind our baby.

It was up to Jon to take on the question “what are we going to make our whiskey in?” A young craft still manufacturer could ask for over $30k for a new still, with prices ranging all the way up to six figures. Neither were options for Green Door’s limited budget. Being an engineer at heart, Jon pulled up CAD software, and started his research into still designs. After consuming himself with developing a solution, Jon designed a still that matches our passion for our love for whiskey. The still is 300 gallons, and a mix of a copper column and a stainless steel pot. Primarily a whiskey still, it will have removable plates and a removable column to change to whatever we desire. The still is another testament to doing things ourselves – truly crafted by hand. Keeping the still relatively small at 300 gal., we are able to run on electricity. This method is great for accuracy and controlling temperature.

Our strategy with the still allows us to grow and scale with our equipment and growth of our industry. We expect a needed upgrade within two years, and at that time we can go for something more name brand, super shiny, and automated with a little leprechaun in a control box giving everyone orders.

The Package.

#JointheAdventure #ExploreEverything

We invite you to come to the distillery to see the display of over 30 bottles we reviewed for our packaging. While saving money around nearly every corner, we promised ourselves that the product and the packaging required nothing but the best. We looked for a decanter style bottle that possessed a vintage look, and felt heavy in your hand. We ended up with an incredible bottle that also lets us share our adventure.

The label…Each product line has a picture taken by one of us on our adventures. The pictures are then transformed into original line artwork by Kent Elliott from Black Lab Five. We want you to get outside and explore Michigan. You’ll notice the GPS coordinates at the bottom of each photo. Go to the places we’ve been! Take your photo there, bring it to the distillery, and you’ll get a surprise. You won’t be disappointed.

The photo…. By tagging us on Instagram and sending us pictures, you’ll get the chance to have your photo featured on our next label (be sure to note the GPS coordinates). Join us in the adventure by getting out and exploring everything our beautiful state has to offer.