Seven Troughs Distillery still in the works

Seven Troughs Distillery owner Tom Adams pitched his whiskey, vodka and gin distillery as a future tourist attraction that could benefit local farmers and other business owners. Adams was invited to address community movers and shakers during the first Business Brunch in Lovelock.

Adams told the crowd why he’s moving his distillery out of Washoe County. Pershing County has a business-friendly environment and Lovelock has “the best whiskey water in the state.” 

“The water is wonderful stuff. It’s like the water of the Scotch highlands,” he said. The water may be ideal but financing remains an issue and it could be five years before full whiskey production.

“As far as the business model goes, we’re still working on capitalization. What we intend to have out here is a primary production facility. That’s roughly 40,000 to 50,000 cases of whiskey, vodka and gin on an annual basis. The system capability is up to 100,000 cases per year so we might do custom manufacturing for other businesses. Tahoe Blue Vodka, as an example.”

Seven Troughs could eventually need up to 1700 tons per year of locally-grown wheat, corn, malting barley and “some crazy stuff like a batch of rye,” Adams said. Older varieties of grain produce better tasting whiskey and better backstories but they are more costly to produce.

“We want to work with local growers,” he explained. “We are keenly interested in looking for different flavors of corn and wheat. To that end, we’ll probably talk about splitting between high-yield varieties and maybe some heritage varieties to give us a little flavor boost.” 

Sugar is fermented out of the grain but there’s still plenty of protein so the leftovers could be livestock feed, Adams said. About 1200 tons of “distillers grain” could be available each year.

“We’ll have to figure out a swap or downstream disposal. That’s something that’s out there so if you’ve got good ideas, we want to talk about it. Once it is utilized, the grain goes through a dewatering press. We don’t intend to pelletize it but that is something we could work on.”

As for labor, Adams said the work force will increase along with whiskey production.

“The number of employees varies from year one to year five. In year one, we’re looking at local labor costs of $575,000 and escalating that on a yearly basis to year five when we’re in full production with $925,000 in wages,” he told about 30 people at the Black Rock Grill. “That will likely be distributed to around 12 to 14 full-time employees on the ground here.”

Adams said he intends to spend locally “as much as possible” on construction materials, building contractors, print advertising, online services, whiskey bottle labels and billboards.

“We want to grab billboard space as early as possible to try and steer folks into our tasting room,” he said. “We’re not going to go crazy with a restaurant. We need to focus on manufacturing and production.”

Seven Troughs could attract 20,000 tourists each year and that could benefit other businesses including restaurants, gift shops and art galleries. The tasting room could be a local food outlet and “we would love to see some of our products in your food,” Adams told restaurant owners.

The exterior of the Windmill building will be beautified with tin siding, wood and other material so that it looks like an old mine building and “to up its curb appeal.” Adams said he would like to see a nearby picnic area for families and an outdoor stage for live music and other events. 

After whiskey production ramps up, Adams will be looking for another place to store his barrels. The liquor must age for a few years before it’s ready for “alco” tourists and other whiskey lovers.

“A tin shed with a sprinkler system is really all we need,” he told the crowd. “And a padlock!”

In 2020, the Seven Troughs Distillery in Sparks was closed for five months due to the pandemic. Instead of making whiskey, the business produced a different kind of alcohol, Adams said.

“We had the Director of Emergency Services for Renown call me at the house and ask us to fire up the stills to make ethanol. In 2020, we didn’t fill one barrel of whiskey, we just made totes of ethanol,” he said. “If your hand sanitizer smelled like tequila, that was my hand sanitizer.”