Prior to entering the world of spirits, Jill Kuehler, the founder of Freeland Spirits, ran Zenger Farm for seven years, where every year 10,000 students visit and learn how and where good food comes from. During that time, she was named one of Portland’s 50 most influential people by Portland Monthly Magazine. For years, Jill dreamed of starting a distillery featuring the very best of Oregon agriculture. Her friend, and “whiskey-drinkin’ buddy” Cory Carman of Carman Ranch, a fourth-generation Eastern Oregon rancher, agreed to grow the rye for her future rye whiskey. And thus, Freeland Spirits was born.
Freeland Spirits is one of very few women-owned and run distilleries in history. The business is named after Jill’s Meemaw (that’s what they call grandmas in Texas) Freeland, “who never touched a drop of booze in her life” but taught Jill that all good things come from scratch, and that women can be anything they want. Freeland Spirits celebrates the women of the craft, from the women who grow the grain, to those who run the still.
Kuehler also decided to partner with the best distiller she could find. She knew she wanted to build a company that used local ingredients where possible. She knew she wanted to build community and have fun, and she knew her purpose was simply to produce the best line of spirits she could possibly put out there. Freeland Spirits master distiller is Molly Troupe. Molly Troupe grew up not far from Portland in Troutdale, Oregon. She attended Southern Oregon University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. She continued her education by attending Heriot Watt University in Scotland, where she earned a Master degree in Brewing and Distilling. Upon graduating, she moved back to Oregon and put her education to work in a career that has spanned several Oregon distilleries starting in Quality Control and ending in Production Management and Lead Distiller. In 2017, she joined forces with Jill Kuehler as Freeland Spirit’s Master Distiller. She is currently the youngest female Master Distiller in the United States.
Freeland Spirits released their first spirit, a gin, in December 2017. “Gin is a whole different ball game than whiskey: you get to play with as many different botanicals as you choose and create a really special flavor wheel,” Kuehler says. Botanicals used in Freeland Spirits’ gin grow right outside the tasting room. A traditional copper pot still brings pink peppercorn, coriander, star anise, along with 11 additional dried botanicals to life, while a state-of-the-art vacuum still provides gentle, fresh flavors of fresh cucumber, rosemary, mint and thyme. The result is meant to invoke a garden’s flavors, housed in an elegant, distinctive blue bottle.
Freeland Spirits Gin has a strikingly smooth texture and rounded body. Fresh herbal essences of rosemary, mint, and crisp cucumber lift the nose. In the mouth, grapefruit and lemon peel brighten the brisk juniper and bold spice.
1/2 lime, cut into four wedges
5 slices cucumber
3/4 oz simple syrup
2 oz Freeland Gin
Dash of salt
Muddle the lime, cucumber and simple together. Top with ice and the gin, garnish with a cucumber and a dash of salt.
2 oz Freeland Spirits Gin
1 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz club soda
Combine all ingredients over ice in a Collins glass with a rosemary sprig and lemon wedge.
A small hand full of fresh Sage
1.5oz Freeland Gin
.75oz Lemon juice
.5oz St. Germain
.25oz Ramazzotti Amaro
3 dashes Addition Sage bitters
Mix all ingredients together in a shaker. Gently shake so you don't break the sage into small pieces. Pour into a Collins glass. Add ice and top with soda water.
2 oz gin
1/4 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz absinthe or pastis
Combine ingredients with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.