The Sutherland Distilling Company was born in a remote paradise due east of the San Francisco Bay, high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Here at a hidden lake full of native trout, surrounded by sheer granite cliffs, and waterfalls that seem to flow from the heavens above, brothers Ryan and Barry Sutherland, and good friend Eric Larimer make an annual pilgrimage along with a few close friends and family to camp, fish, and relax.

Two things every year are essential: good food, and great spirits. One year while sitting around a huge campfire sipping whiskey, the conversation turned to a discussion about how difficult it is to find local California craft spirits. Why is California known for exceptional craft beers and wines, but not spirits? Why are our local towns not full of craft distilleries? Why couldn’t we open a distillery?

That night, the seed was planted — or perhaps malted. The three returned home, but the daydreams of distilling continued. Daydreams led to conversations about recipes, equipment, techniques, and process theory. “Why?” slowly became “Why not?”

Before long, Ryan was traveling around the country taking classes on distilling. Eric was meeting with designers and industry professionals. Barry was working out the permitting and financials. What began as campfire talk had become an obsession. In the fall of 2012, Sutherland Distilling Company was founded, and by late 2013, Livermore’s first local craft spirits were in the bottle. They had become part of California’s Craft Spirit Revolution.