Northland distillery makes good use of Missouri caves
Parkville has always maintained an element of class and distinction. The S.D Strong Company, located in the Park College caves, has taken that integrity a step further.
S.D. Strong is best known as top-shelf vodka. Painstaking steps are taken to make this unique vodka easy to sip, due to its smooth taste. The same principals are used on their soon to be released gin, Pillar 136.
Most would not expect to find an upper-end distillery in Parkville’s cave located on Park College.
“We started in the cave mostly because there is a sprinkler system,” says Steve Strong, owner of S.D. Strong. “I wanted to keep the distillery in Parkville, because I’ve lived here for the last 15 years and I love it. Platte County is under the International Fire Code, which has really strict rules about the amount of in- process work a distillery can have going on. Without an overhead sprinkler system the amount is very low. It goes up almost a hundred-fold by having the sprinklers. I contacted the fire marshal in this area and he actually suggested the caves.”
The cave annually maintains a constant temperature of about 72 degrees and warms up by four or five degrees hotter during the summer heat. This consistent temperature allows proper aging.
The distillery only has only six employees, including Strong and his wife. This small crew creates each product, labels and bottles the vodka. Even bookkeeping and providing taste tests in stores are handled by Strong’s crew. But expansion is in the near future.
“We’re distributed state wide in Missouri and Kansas,” Strong says. “S.D. Strong products are targeted for smaller restaurants and all major liquor stores throughout both states. We’re looking at distribution in Texas, Illinois and Nebraska currently and hope to be in those states in the near future and are ready to take over more space in the caves and more than double the size of the distillery. We’re quickly running out of room and will soon add gin, bourbon and rye to our product line.”
S.D. Strong’s expansion is not by accident. Vodka consumers find an unforgettable taste in this upscale liquor that won several awards including a silver medal in 2013 at the Washington Spirit competition as well as other prestigious awards. The secret is in their preparation.
“We use corn, rye and malted barley flour,” Strong says. “We put it in the mash tub to convert starch into fermentable sugars and move to a fermentation tank where we pitch the yeast. It takes about a week to ferment out all the sugars and turn it into alcohol. The mash is moved to our custom made 200-gallon still. We boil the mash until vapors rise up thru the copper mesh packed column to hit a condenser and are converted back to liquid alcohol.”
Sound complicated? The next step helps create this top-shelf product.
“We distill our vodka three times,” says Andrew Ziller, sales manager for S.D. Strong. “Next we filter our vodka 16 times through a charcoal filter. This step takes out impurities and creates smoother tasting vodka. We are upper end but try to maintain a reasonable cost.”
S.D. Strong takes pride in purchasing all products in the United States. Corn is bought from St. Joseph, Mo. and whiskey or rye barrels are built in southern Missouri. Even the bottles are created from Missouri companies. The still, copied from a Germany design, was made by a company in Maine.
Who says you can’t drink local? In the Northland, it’s easier than ever. S.D. Strong has made sure of that.
For more information about this unique company, check their web site at SDStrongDistilling.com.