EDEN — There’s more to the gin Chris and Ashley Cross make than meets the eye.
Clear bottles containing coriander, sarsaparilla, cut cinnamon, lime, white peppercorn, sage and hibiscus were lined up on the bar at New World Distillery Friday as Ashley Cross explained they all contribute to their Oomaw gin’s aromatic body and flavor.
“If you can’t make a martini out of it, it’s not good enough,” she said. “That’s setting the bar pretty high, so when people taste or purchase the gin, I encourage them try it neat,” without ice, water or another mixer.
New World Distillery opened in Eden Dec. 10, but the Crosses were working up until the very last minute to make that happen. The night before the opening, the family corked 631 bottles.
“We started with gin in part because of the timing of the year,” Ashley Cross said. “Gin is a great holiday spirit. Lots of holiday parties, cocktails, martinis, that sort of thing.”
The distillery emphasizes organic ingredients, local sources, responsible processes and an overall environmentally conscious existence. For example, 100 percent of the building’s cooling water is recirculated, and they use a wastewater evaporator. They also participate in the Rocky Mountain Power Subscriber Solar Program.
“If you go to the effort to start with an organic base spirit and you seep a bunch of pesticide-laden botanicals into your base spirit, then that’s a waste, so all of our botanicals are organic,” Ashley Cross said.
The Crosses moved around the country before settling down in the 1990s in Ogden where Ashley Cross worked as a teacher. The two had always been interested in making spirits and decided to take the dive in November 2013.
“I’ve been to gin school twice in Amsterdam and once in Seattle,” Ashley Cross said. “We’ve been to Mexico multiple times to different schools, and we were even thinking we were going to do this in Mexico at one point.”
After their initial building choice fell through, the couple decided to build their distillery from the ground up. Working with Eden’s Peterson Builders Inc., they broke ground in March.
“Not only do we live up here, but we love that there is a lot of tourism up here,” Chris Cross said. “We have people coming through weekly to ski.”
The distillery’s front shop and bar area is decorated with merchandise and other locally made products. The spirit-making process is visible through large windows, and the Crosses plan to start offering public tours Friday, Jan. 6.
Making Oomlaw gin requires several steps, Chris Cross said. Grain is fermented in two large tanks, distilled and then, most importantly, left alone for five weeks.
“It’s a resting phase, it’s a mellowing phase, and it’s something not a lot of people do because they need to get something on the shelf and sold,” Ashley Cross said.
Ashley Cross said a lot of people come in with the predetermined notion they don’t like gin.
“It’s been really fun to educate people,” she said. “Nine times out of 10, they leave with a bottle.”
In the future, New World Distillery plans to distill and bottle vodka through a partnership with Talisman Brewing Company, where the grains will be mashed. The Crosses also plan to distill and sell several types of agave spirits, an alcohol that goes by the name tequila when distilled in Mexico.
The gin they’re working with for now is adorned with an intricate dragonfly logo.
“If you look closely at the wings, you can see snow-capped mountains, the honeycomb pattern on the bumblebee and Delicate Arch,” Ashley Cross said.
The dragonfly also ties into the gin’s name, which was developed by the couple’s son Conor.
“Oomaw in the Hopi religion is a cloud deity, so we have the clouds etched on the back,” Ashley Cross said, turning the bottle. “The dragonfly works with the cloud deity to discover untapped sources of natural water.”
The Crosses plan to hold a larger grand opening this coming spring, with contributors who made the three-year project a reality. Once operating at full capacity, Chris Cross said, they have the capability to produce about 100,000 bottles of spirits annually.
The distillery is located at 4795 E. 2600 N. in Eden and is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.