Local Distillery Still Feeling Pinch From Government Shutdown

Published: .
Updated: .

Years of labor and love have been poured into each barrel stacked inside the warehouse of Middle West Spirits.

Co-owner Ryan Lang says he's always thinking ahead for each new batch.

“We're a company that likes to produce whiskey. That's what we got into this business for - our bourbons, wheat whiskeys, rye whiskeys, things of that nature. In order to create them in the future, you have to put money into stock now, because you have to purchase the barrels, you have to purchase grain, you have to pay for the labor, and then you have to sit on them,” said Ryan Lang, Middle West Spirits.

The product must be stored a few years before selling.

“That's the challenge with distilleries is that you have to make it now and you have to wait,” he added.

In fact, Lang says they waited nearly four years for their most recent line of liquors.

“There's a barrel aged honey vanilla bean, our new line of double barreling programs, so it's a single barrel Alla Rosa wheat whiskey.”

Both are ready to sell, except for one problem. The government has not approved the labels.

“Traditionally, with the channel we were going through, we would have been approved by October.”

But Lang says the shutdown, more than a month ago, caused a backlog in Washington.

“So instead of being approved in four weeks, it went to six weeks, then eight weeks, and now, we don't know. We don't know when they'll be approved.”

He tells us the hold-up is costing his locally-owned business almost $200,000 in holiday sales. Money, he says, he could have used to hire a new employee and buy bigger and better equipment.

“This lot of barrels were actually prepared for the holiday.”

The barrels will most likely now sit until the new year.

The folks with Middle West Spirits say they still hope to sell their holiday O-Y-O spirits in 2014.

But, they say the lack of sales this season pushes back all their new products in the seasons to come.