written by: Zanne Lamb-Hunt
Braeden Bumpers started out “just down the road in Montgomery County” in a town called Cabin John. He worked with water conservation issues for the Chesapeake Conservation Corps in Rock Creek Park. He then worked in business development at a start-up outside D.C.
Along with a business background, Braeden (like his business partner, Tyler Hegamyer) has been home brewing for many years. In fact, the partnership started when they became friends over home brewing.
“We’d been doing it for nine or ten years at this point. We were both living down in North Carolina and toying with the idea of opening a distillery.
Braeden continues, “When the laws of Maryland changed, we both decided that we wanted to move back home and pursue that goal. Tyler is a Frederick native, born and raised.
“We looked at some other places in the State but this is really where we wanted to be. So, after many, many years of fundraising and tweaking our business plan, we finally got our space last July. We both left our jobs and committed to this full-time.”
Recalling when he used to have spare time — before he started his entrepreneurial journey — Braeden shares that he enjoyed “hiking, white-water paddling, and playing the banjo.”
What’s Behind The Superior Quality At McClintock Distillery?
* Organic Full Whole Grains
McClintock Distillery always starts with the raw ingredient — full whole grains — to transform them into “something special like good gin, whiskey or vodka.”
* A 1000 Gallon Copper-Coated Still
“The entire pot is copper. The entire column is copper. The condensor inlines are copper.” And, this has everything to do with producing great products with great flavor.
“This means that the product dimethyl trisulfide — that nail polish remover taste you get sometimes with some products — is chemically bonded to the copper and doesn’t come over to the final product. So, we have some really good-tasting stuff!”
* The Milling Process
“We use a stone burr mill — which is basically two big granite blocks that turn against each other and slow-grind the grain — which keeps the naturally occurring enzymes and that really good flavor and quality in whiskey that you’re looking for in our actual product.”
The Biggest Challenge On The Road To Entrepreneurial Success
“We’ve had many, many challenges but probably the biggest is the building we’re in. We spent about sixteen months renovating it. It’s a 105-year-old, 5400 sq ft. historic building. It’s got great bones but it needed a lot of TLC to get it up and running.
“We didn’t have a ton of funds so Tyler and I ended up doing as much of the work ourselves as we could. It was kind of trial-by-fire learning, training, funding…all of that stuff.” They even journeyed to Chicago to learn the distilling business.
“We had run some small-batch fermentation for our whiskeys to experiment with the flavor. We tried to kind of jury-rig and do small batch distilling but it’s really hard to scale up the production from a little five-gallon makeshift copper pot to our current still which is a 1000-gallon German-made piece of equipment that is fantastic.”
Braeden continues, “We started distilling in early November. I’m sorry to say we dumped a few hundred gallons of good gin and whiskey down the drain because it wasn’t the final product that we have now. We wanted to wait until we had the best thing that we could put out there.”
The Results of Quality Distilling Are In!
Epiphany Vodka is wheat based, double-distilled and triple-filtered in-house.
Forager Gin is vapor-infused and “unlike anything out there. We use 21 different botanicals that are inspired from native and local Appalachian botanicals for our flavoring.”
Maryland Heritage White Whiskey uses “a traditional Maryland mash bill with sort of a heavy rye content — a white rye whiskey.”
And, there’s more to come! “We are barrel-aging a bourbon and rival whiskey as well. We’re doing it the old-fashioned way in 30-gallon barrels. Those probably won’t be ready for a good two to three years.”
McClintock Distillery Is Paying It Forward In Downtown Frederick
“We partner with different non-profits and artists in the Downtown Frederick community in trying to donate private tours and tastings and to offer a venue for artists.
“We recently were contacted by an artist who does fantastic work. She just could not get her art anywhere. I’m happy to say she’ll be doing a two-week stint at the distillery.
“It’s great to see what an impact that has on these people to be given a chance. With all the chances we’ve been given, it’s only right to pay it forward to others.”
Advice Braeden Would Give Himself If He Could Turn Back Time
“Be patient! The whole process is really time consuming and we were really nervous because we knew there were other distilleries coming in across the State and in Frederick. We thought the market share would be tapped out by the time we got there.
“What we found is that it has actually been a really big help to us to have the other two guys in town and the other distilleries across the State both as a resource and working together on promotional opportunities.”
Braeden describes everyone as being “cooperative and nice within the industry which is a big change from the tech industry I came from where you could easily be fired for sending the wrong e-mail to the wrong person.”
The App That Helps Keep It All Flowing At McClintock Distillery
Google Calendar saves the day! “We have our production schedule out about three to four weeks at any time because the distillation process takes so long from the mashing, fermenting, distillation — we really have to be careful planning what we’re doing on any given day.
“And, it changes very frequently depending on how much is being moved out of the tasting room right now. So, its really been invaluable.
“Not to mention, we also have weddings and events here. We have stuff scheduled well into 2018 and 2019. So, its really become a daily check-in for us.”
The 5400 sq ft facility is now divided about equally into two parts — production floor and tasting room. It lends itself to a lot of possibilities as it can be completely opened up for events and weddings. “Its been a nice venue for Downtown Frederick.”
A Quote To Drink By
Braeden credits Mark Twain as the source of one of his favorite quotes: [Too much of anything is bad but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”]
Got another drinking quote to offer up? Bring it on down and share it with Braeden and Tyler! Check out the space for your next event while you’re there. Just remember to book ASAP to secure the date at this trendy and friendly venue.
Open for tours & tastings!
Thursday & Friday: 4 – 8
Saturdays & Sundays: Noon – 8
35 South Carroll Street
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Contents Provided by Frederick Advice Givers Episode #091: Eric Verdi Interviews Braeden Bumpers