Rising StarJill Kuehler of Freeland Spirits Champions Equal Opportunity Drinking

Think whiskey is just a man’s drink? Think again. Freeland Spirits is a woman-owned, boundary-crushing, craft distillery in Portland, Oregon that creates superior gin and whiskey from scratch. Named after founder Jill Kuehler’s Meemaw, who taught her that women can be anything they want, Freeland champions “equal opportunity drinking” and celebrates the women of the craft.

After meeting its $25,000 crowdfunding goal in one day, Freeland has five days left to reach its stretch goal of $75,000. Learn more on Indiegogo.

Here’s more from founder Jill Kuehler (below at left):

The spark that inspired the birth of your concept:
Walking into a distillery and the smell of the barrels, the grain, and the whiskey. I was a sucker. There was no going back.

The problem it solves: 37% of today’s whiskey drinkers are women, yet almost 100% of whiskey is marketed by men to men. Whiskey isn’t just for the good ol’ boys club. Freeland Spirits will be a place where all are welcome and celebrated. From the gals who grow the grain, to those who run the still, Freeland celebrates the women of the craft.

How you came up with the name: Freeland is named after my Grandma. Meemaw Freeland was my mom’s mom. I spent summers at Meemaw’s playing in the dirt, in the lake, in the woods. She never touched a drop of booze but she taught me that women can be whatever they want. And the best things come straight out of the earth.

How you differentiate from your competition: I don’t think of it as being better. I’m thrilled to join the burgeoning craft beverage movement of Portland. From coffee to kombucha to beer and spirits, Portland is setting the pace. My distillery friends have welcomed me with open arms and we all agree that we’re in this together. With that said…our gin that we’re about to release will blow your mind and your tastebuds. We’re utilizing a process completely unique to Freeland. We distill fresh ingredients, cucumber, mint, thyme, rosemary and honey on a rotovap that uses vacuum distillation to enhance the delicate fresh flavors. That is then blended with the juniper and 12 other botanicals that are distilled through traditional heat distillation. The result is a beautiful herbaceous gin that is delicious in cocktails or just with a cube of ice.

The best thing about being an entrepreneur: Each day is completely different. There is a new, seemingly insurmountable challenge that presents itself, and then you overcome it only to be presented with the next one. It all builds resilience and makes you a better leader and a better person.

Your #1 piece of advice for a budding entrepreneur: Don’t do it. Unless you just can’t help yourself. Then go for it and go all in.

The #1 book you would recommend for a budding entrepreneur: Don’t read too many books. Or ask for too much advice. At some point you just have to decide if you’re going to leap. Then you learn as you go, no matter how many books you read.

The song that best describes your entrepreneurial journey: Beyonce – Formation. Our barrel room will be pulsating with Beyonce. A few distilleries are experimenting with sonic aging, where the pulsating music helps to agitate the spirit and increasing the extraction of the wood by the spirit. But none of those barrels are listening to Beyonce.

Your favorite local business: Wildfang. Cause, duh.

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