Denison’s Ironroot Republic will be getting some assistance in expanding production of craft spirits and distilled alcohol.
A nearly $41,000 micro-manufacturing incentive agreement through the Denison Development Alliance was approved for Ironroot Republic Distillery Thursday. The money will assist the company in its planned expansion of bottling operations and other equipment improvements to their distillery.
"We think this success a slam dunk for us with their production and product — the world’s best bourbon," DDA Vice President William Myers said Thursday.
Ironroot saw an increase in its profile this year when its Harbinger line was awarded the "World’s Best Bourbon" award in the 2020 World Whiskies Awards.
Under the agreement, the DDA will pay 15 percent of nearly $272,600 worth of new equipment for the distillery.
This is the second on a new type of manufacturing grant that the DDA has recently started pursuing aimed at existing industries who are looking to expand on a smaller scale than what the DDA has traditionally supported. Last month, the DDA approved a similar agreement with CJ’s coffee cafe related to roasting equipment it will use to produce coffee beans for use in all of their shops, and for sale online.
"If you have a piece of equipment that significantly improves production, that’s what we are looking to support," Myers said.
The primary piece of equipment that will be acquired through the incentive is bottling equipment, said Marcia Likarish, representing Ironroot Republic. Up until this point, all of the bottling has been done by hand from the washing and filling to the corking and sealing.
"We would stand in line eight to ten hours a day at times," Likarish said. "Some times it is two or us or all three of us."
Likarish said she received some help during the pandemic when a group of family friends came up to Denison and stayed to help with bottling.
"However, that isn’t something we can do all the time," she said.
With the new equipment, Likarish said the company will be able exponentially increase the speed in which it bottles its product. What once would take weeks would instead only take days by comparison.
"In two days can bottle more than you could in a month and a half," she said.
This will free up workers and allow Ironroot to expand into new product lines, she said. Likarish said this will include rum that Ironroot is preparing to import, but said the company is not ready to announce other partnerships.
Another piece of equipment that will be added to the distillery is improved chilling technology. Myers said there was some difficulty in finding a vendor who would be able to add onto the site’s existing chilling equipment rather than installing an entirely new system.
Likarish said the equipment will help the plant, especially during the hot Texas summers, which have limited operations in the summer months.
Both Likarish and Myers said the incentive agreement comes during a period of growth for the company. While Ironroot initially started producing about 50 barrels a year, it is quickly approaching 200 only six years later.
"Even our own Ironroot label has grown this year compared to last year," Likarish said.
Myers said the incentive made sense for the DDA as it helps support and foster expansion of a local business.
"It’s reinvesting in our existing industry," Myers said. "They are a very highly regarded industry participant and that isn’t just in Denison. They are esteemed and renowned in what they do and we want to help them grow.
"People come from across the country, and definitely across the state just to tour Ironroot. If you look at how that fits in with our heritage with Munson, as an industry player it’s huge."
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at email@example.com.