words and photos by: Andrea Peterson
Nestled between forested peaks in Ogden Canyon, in idyllic and remote Eden—a town of only 600—is New World Distillery. “We brought a little bit of sin into the valley,” winks Ashley Cross, one half of the husband-and-wife team that owns and operates the distillery.
Although the distillery only opened in December of 2016, the duo has been experimenting with spirits for nearly two decades. Chris calls himself the “tequila geek” and his wife a “gin-soaked barroom queen.”
Ashley taught English for 24 years before deciding one night that she was not going back to school in the fall. “I needed a new world. Chris and I wanted to live and work in the same place.” Thus, the New World Distillery was born.
Ashley and gin have been flirting with a long-term relationship for many years. Her first drink was a gin and tonic. Since then, she’s been to the Netherlands twice for gin school, studying under Edwin van Eljk, one of the world’s premiere gin consultants. Ashley sees a hole in the U.S. market for her drink of choice. “If you go to a bar in America and ask for gin, they might have four gins on the shelf. But if you go to the Netherlands, they will give you a menu of 50 different gins,” she explains.
New World’s first release, Oomaw Gin was named for a Hopi cloud deity who works with the dragonfly to unlock untapped water sources. To ensure top-shelf quality, New World Distillery has invested in state-of-the-art Dutch equipment. The Crosses have experimented with a unique botanical profile. Their recipe is a mosaic of eight flavors including sarsaparilla root, cinnamon bark, vanilla, dried lime, white peppercorn, sage, dried hibiscus and angelica root. “But if I can’t taste juniper, I’ll argue to the death it’s just flavored vodka,” says Ashley. The Crosses are dedicated to white spirits. Making their agave spirit and gin came easy, but they have a love-hate relationship with vodka. “We were overthinking it—trying to make a neutral spirit fit the complexity of the other spirits,” says Ashley. They finally decided to use mashed grains from the local Talisman brewery and to send portions of the profit to a local non-profit, combining their passions for community and sustainability. “It’s very community inspired. And that’s how we came to give a shit about the vodka,” says Chris Cross.
Speaking of community, why did the Crosses choose Eden? “Simply because it’s a destination point for people who come off the mountain year-round.” says Ashley.
4795 E. 2600 North, Eden, 385-244-0144, newworlddistillery.com
See more inside the 2017 May/June Issue.