Spawning Conservation Through
The morning after her first class at Dry Fly Distilling Institute, Connie Baker called her husband Carey to announce that they would be opening a distillery. That was in 2011.
Now, Connie and her team produce spirits from local Colorado grains and pure alpine water at their custom-built facility, which opened in 2015. What’s more, Carbondale-based Marble Distilling Company & Inn produce their award-winning vodka and whiskey with zero water waste.
“Our core business model is around community sustainability,” says Connie.
Connie gets her water right off the Crystal River at her home in Marble, a tiny town that earned its name for the abundance of metamorphic rock that forms when limestone is subjected to heat and pressure. It just so happens that marble is also Mother Nature’s perfect filtration system for vodka.
Connie explains that significant water and energy resources are required for distillation; she knew there had to be a way to incorporate earth-friendly practices into her operation.
“I toured many distilleries and was a bit aghast at all the supercharged hot water at 145 degrees that was going down the drain, she says. “So, we cobbled together a team of engineers and had a lot of blue sky sessions. We came up with the idea to reuse 100 percent of our process water in a closed manmade geothermal loop, and then harvest all the energy.”
As a result, the operation saves more than four million gallons of water a year and yields enough reclaimed energy to fully power its tasting room, distillery and five-room inn. In that same spirit of sustainability, the grains they ferment are cultivated about a half mile away. The spent mash from the distilling process then returns to the ranch where it was grown to feed the livestock.
One of the things I told them is that they should never give up. And I believe that people who enjoy their work don’t necessarily see it as work.
- Connie Baker, cofounder and head distiller at Marble Distilling Co. & Inn
Marble Distilling Co., now a recognized leader in the craft distilling industry, consults with dozens of operations on the system they’ve developed. Marble Distilling Co. even had the honor of touring academia - University of California-Davis Professor Roger Bolton learned about their renewable practices and graciously provided input to advance their system. University of California-Davis has the most advanced sustainability system within their winemaking and brewery curriculum. Marble Distilling Co. has also partnered with Colorado Mountain College to offer a class on business sustainability.
“The students could ask me any question,” says Connie. “One of the things I told them is that they should never give up. And I believe that people who enjoy their work don’t necessarily see it as work.”