How Dry Fly Distilling break into the liquor industry



A cabin with business partners, heaps of market research data, pens and papers scattered all over, and a serious discussion on the massive investment that is needed. Isn’t this how businesses are planned? Actually, not really. Dry Fly Distilling is living proof of that.

It all started on a bright sunny day when knee-deep in the Gallatin River in Montana, two corporate executives, Don Poffenroth CEO & Founder, and his good friend Kent Fleischmann were enjoying fly fishing and a conversation. This casual conversation on the beauty of life and how they are not meant for corporate life anymore further unfolded itself into a revolutionary idea of producing handcrafted spirits and led to the genesis of Dry Fly Distilling.

The spirit of innovation

Established in April 2007, Dry Fly Distilling is the first distillery in Washington since the prohibition era. It produces award-winning gin, vodka, and whiskey. It has also recently released a line of canned cocktails featuring its award-winning spirits. 

Being a part of the product-based industry, Dry Fly Distilling understands the importance of keeping its products unique. As industry giants continue to dominate the market, it ensures that each product has a signature taste of its own and is made of the finest ingredients from selected farms. With a true farm-to-bottle operation, every sip of liquor offers the unfathomable purity and quality it desires. “Our beverages are enjoyed by a wide range of consumers and can be used in delicious cocktails or on their own, our canned cocktails are ready-to-drink and take the cocktail preparation out of the equation,” says Terry Nichols, Vice President, Sales & Marketing and Co-owner Dry Fly Distilling. “We are known for trying new things like making whiskey from a grain called Triticale or producing the first 100% Wheat Whiskey in the country.” Dry Fly Distilling through its products is giving the tenured players a tough time. A perfect trio of unmatched quality, versatility, and class, its products are setting new industry benchmarks. By offering top-notch quality products, it has sent a message to its competitors and is in the race for a longer run. “Today, our growth is coming from two primary sources, the new canned ready-to-drink cocktails we introduced in the fall of 2019 and whiskey, particularly Bourbon!” discusses Terry. “The cocktails are made with all-natural fresh ingredients and our premium spirits; we can scale up production here quickly so as a growth engine they are great. Whiskey on the other hand takes time to develop, it is a minimum 3-year investment from the time you put that barrel away until you can bottle and sell it, so a bit longer road to scale up.”

The alcoholic beverages industry is indeed an attractive and lucrative domain to step into. However, it is one of the toughest to survive. With people always looking out for something new, it is also an opportunity to come up with something they haven’t tasted. In an attempt to be the best in the industry, Dry Fly Distilling has consistently upgraded itself and proved itself fit in every realm of business. “Dry Fly Mission is creating an environment where quality always wins out over quantity. We are committed to balancing innovation in spirits while honoring time-tested tradition,” says Terry. “For us, the journey matters – how we make our products, and the people we meet along the way, are incredibly important to us.” May it be the quality of ingredients, the manufacturing processes, the marketing strategies, or the distribution of the final products, Dry Fly Distilling has not left even a single stone unturned. “We are a small company competing in a sector dominated by industry titans, multi-national corporations that dwarf us, so we are competitive, tenacious, nimble, innovative, quality-driven, community-minded, and socially responsible,” says Terry.

“The cocktails are made with all-natural fresh ingredients and our premium spirits; we can scale up production here quickly so as a growth engine they are great. Whiskey on the other hand takes time to develop, it is a minimum 3-year investment from the time you put that barrel away until you can bottle and sell it, so a bit longer road to scale up.”

The right synergy

Bringing along a work experience of 24 years in sales and marketing, Terry joined Dry Fly Distilling in June 2018 and since then their synergy has been magical. Under his leadership, as a brand, Dry Fly Distilling has seen some massive upgrades and has transformed itself into a known player. “I suppose the challenge of competing in a David versus Goliath scenario has always appealed to me personally,” Terry laughs. “I often wonder if there isn’t something wrong with me to choose the uphill battle consistently over the years!”  When asked, Terry said that he has a different perception of Dry Fly Distilling. He looks at it as a brand which though is small as compared to other aged brands but has matured in a very short period and is creating its mark with its product line. The quality, the packaging, and the most important thing, the signature taste that determines the drinking experience is what makes Dry Fly Distilling a brand for everyone.

A cheerful person by heart, Terry has a great sense of humor and believes in thinking positively. When he is not at work, you will find him in the outdoors enjoying his favorite activities which include camping, fishing, boating, hiking, and biking. He loves fine beer, wine, and spirits, and believes in the adage “Fun products, tough business”.

Work culture: The Soul of Dry Fly

At Dry Fly Distilling, work culture is the most valued and is considered an asset. With every staff member valued and treated with utmost and mutual respect, everyone is free to offer suggestions and feedback without being scared of being criticized or laughed at. Innovation and ideas run in the DNA of every product and Dry Fly Distilling is proud of it.

For the last 13 years, Dry Fly Distilling has been setting goals and achieving them. Though it is a known brand and holds the same amount of respect tenured brands do, it has not allowed its success to overwhelming it. The entire team still works with the same zeal and enthusiasm and believes in staying grounded. Humbled by their success, the team ensures that every visitor who comes and sees them in the tasting room receives a warm welcome and an exceptional overall experience. “We have deliberately instilled a culture of oneness and teamwork. Everyone is dedicated to contributing to each other’s success,” mentions Terry.

What does Terry think about franchising?

Dry Fly Distilling is not offering franchises as of now. When asked about the criteria for choosing a future franchise partner, Terry says that the prime quality they would look out for in a probable franchise partner would be the love and passion for their products. The partner must be extremely passionate about Dry Fly Distilling and must be willing to go out of the way to deliver an excellent customer experience while maintaining the set quality and service standards.

As Covid-19 continues to spread across the world, keeping the demand and supply of its product in sync is one challenge Dry Fly Distilling is facing. To power through it, Dry Fly Distilling is extensively working on the distribution of its products and appoints only those distributors who understand its vision and are willing to go another mile for them. As a part of its growth strategy, Dry Fly Distilling has consolidated its distributors across the country as being financially relevant is more important in today’s times. Currently available in 26 states, Dry Fly Distilling is making every attempt to spread its network to 12 more states in near future. Apart from distribution, launching a widespread network of pubs and targeting the right audience is what Dry Fly Distilling looks forward to. “Beyond that who knows, anything is possible,” says Terry.