I can't tell you how excited I was to sit down with Benay AND get a full-on tour at her distillery, Restless Spirits, out of Kansas City, MO!!! One of the most genuine and straight-forward ladies I have met in a while who has passion--not just booze--pouring out of her pores! So let me tell you a little about her story.
Benay is not your typical distiller... she wasn't in this industry before she and her husband, Mike, started Restless Spirits Distilling Co. After high school, she went off to the University of Colorado where, after testing out several majors, she graduated with a Biology degree. Yes, guys, she is a scientist by trade! She and Mike married her senior year there and, soon after, created a wonderful man named Patrick.
She will tell you that she has had three careers her whole life, the first being a mother and taking a "15-year maternity leave." Eventually she got a Masters in Education and started teaching high school science for the next 11 years where she learned even more about science.
Now, when you meet Mike, you know right away that he is a go-getter. Full of life and energy this man has. He decided one day that he wanted to start distilling, but just couldn't figure out the science behind it. This is where Benay stepped in. They wanted to focus on Irish Whiskey because of their family background (5 generations of Mike's family have lived in the Irish Community in KC!) and because of the growth in that category.
After three years of research, they finally started distilling on a larger scale in the Fall of 2015. In just under two years, they now have an Irish Whiskey, a blended Irish Whiskey, a vodka, a limited edition Poitin (that is f*cking fantastic!), and, much to Benay's initial dismay, a botanical gin. But let me tell you...both she and I agree that her gin is phenomenal.
As with most people I talk to, her first experience with gin was not a good one. Probably because she had a dirty gin martini and she hates olives and salt... good job, Benay. But, there is a market for it, so she buckled down and came up with one of the best botanical gins I have had in a long time, and now she drinks the hell out of (her) gin! Wanting to keep to the Irish roots, she knew she wanted it to be bright, green and fresh, so she gave her gin a character and name (Aine, the Irish Goddess of Sunshine). Playing with 25 to 26 botanicals and doing a lot of science and research, she finally nailed down what I would call a spa-like gin.
This mother of two never stops and is full of surprises. Did you know that she has a horse and used to do cowboy mounted shooting? Don't mess with her! But now this family business is her life... and she is great at it. After her morning devotionals and stretching, she is busting her butt to make us amazing booze and working with the other distillers in KC to help promote each other and build camaraderie. Her life is like whiskey: ever-changing and growing, but her personality is like vodka, very honest, open and not hiding a thing.
Next time you are in Kansas CIty, MO, make sure you go check them out!
Restless Spirits Distilling Co.
109 E. 18th AVENUE
KANSAS CITY, MO 64116
And find ME (Naomi, The Drunken Gnome) on the internet: thedrunkengnome.net