Butte is a mining town, the Richest Hill on Earth. The first major gold strike in the area occurred in 1862; but gold, albeit the initial draw, was not the crowning mineral. No, Butte’s story is one of copper. In 1881 the Anaconda Copper Mine was purchased by Marcus Daly, and by 1915, the mine was the largest copper producer in the world. One of the most prominent remains of Butte’s mining days are the headframes – the elevators that would lower miners miles underground – now scattered across the hillside. Mining was a dangerous profession, no one knew if the tunnels would hold or if they would see their loved ones again. It was this constant fear that drew the community together. Fast forward to 2010, and it is in this community, rich in history and camaraderie, that Headframe Spirits has taken root.
John and Courtney McKee, owners of Headframe Spirits, have been true movers and shakers in the Montana tourism scene. Not only do they offer award winning products, and world-renowned stills, but they continue to positively impact the Butte and larger Montana community. Most community members recognize Headframe Spirits for their outstanding tasting room that provides a welcoming environment and the perfect place to get together with friends, but there is so much more to the Headframe Spirits business. Namely, their still manufacturing division. Headframe is revolutionizing the micro-distilling industry with their “continuous flow” distillation stills. This innovation has defined Headframe Spirits and continues to drive quality.
If you have the chance to make your way through “Butte, America,” stopping into the distillery on Montana Street promises be a highlight! The tasting room offers an extensive list of cocktails utilizing the finest spirits – all of which take their names from historic mining claims in the area.
The Spirits and Their Namesakes
- High Ore Vodka
The High Ore Mine was one of Butte’s deepest and richest copper mines, offering both great risk and reward for those who dared venture into its depths.
- Neversweat Bourbon Whiskey
Neversweat was given its name for her unusually cool temperatures.
- Anselmo Gin
Known for the immense claims of copper, the other mining claims in Butte tend to be forgotten. The Anselmo Mine was a zinc mine in a copper town.
- Destroying Angel Whiskey
The Destroying Angel is one of four claims on which the distillery rests. The history lies right beneath your feet!
- Orphan Girl Bourbon Cream Liqueur
When visiting the World Museum of Mining, visitors will meet the Orphan Girl Headframe. When in operation, this headframe was out on its own, away from the other mines – an orphan; today it stands as a prominent reminder of Butte’s rich mining history.
There is a nonprofit organization (B Lab), founded in 2006, that provides for-profit businesses the opportunity to further promote their social consciousness with the “B Certification.” They have standardized the process of becoming a Certified B Corporation with their B Impact Assessment. This certification is helping to change mindsets, and encourage businesses to make conscious decisions about their impact – both socially and environmentally.
“Headframe Spirits strives to elevate their employees, community, state, and industry by focusing on collaboration and solutions in distillation, agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing.”
As of December 2016, Headframe Spirits is one of these certified organizations (only 7 in Montana). It is the primary goal of both B Lab, and the organizations certified by B Lab, to redefine success in business.
Get to know the owners before you go — Courtney McKee, co-owner and CEO of Headframe Spirits, at TEDxWhitefish:
Stop in to one of Montana’s favorite businesses, and get to know the unique community that keeps us coming back.