The Whiskey (Ohnmacht) Sisters are Burlington’s local businesswomen.
Stephanie and her younger sister, Felicia, supply grain from the Burlington family farm, which is still run by their mother and father, to distilleries in Colorado. They also work with five other farms, which contribute to the sisters’ inventory of corn (red, white and blue varieties, of course), oats, millet, wheat, rye and triticale.
As they post on their website, their beans go from “farm in mind”.
The Whiskey Sisters grew up on the plains of eastern Colorado on a farm set up in 1907, the same one their parents operate today. They combine their love of home with their passion for a spirit to help their farming community at home and beyond.
The duo were in Burlington at the Dish Room recently to promote their product and mission. They took a few minutes to sit down and discuss it with The Burlington Record.
BR: How do you feel about hosting this event in your hometown with your friends and neighbors?
Stephanie: It’s really exciting. It’s fun to come back and just have a drink with people and kick the tires in the world of whiskey and learn from them. We are not even experts. We only know what we know. It’s been fun to learn what others know here. Related to the farm, some of the grains we have tonight start in Burlington and then come back through the circle of life to Burlington via spirits.
BR: How do you think what you do helps farmers?
Felicia: I think it helps create awareness. It creates this link between rural areas and metropolitan areas. So people realize that this product comes from somewhere. Someone had to grow it, someone had to harvest it, and then create it. It helps to make that connection. Businesses want to make that connection.
BR: How has your business helped your own family farm?
Stéphanie: It had a lot of impact because the farm struggled during those times. He reunited the farm.
BR: Do you still call Burlington home? Do you live here?
Felicia: It depends on how you define home. We live with our families, not in Burlington. However, Burlington is what the heart knows and knows so well. (Felicia lives in Denver and Stephanie in Austin, Texas)
BR: How often do you make appearances like this and where do you go next?
Stéphanie: We do tastings. We did COVID tastings via zoom. We did a conference in Kentucky. We had discussions on diversification in the world of distillery. It’s very organic. Don’t shoot the whiskey, sip it and make it palatable. We love helping educate people about the different whiskeys and the whole process. To be bourbon, it must contain 51% corn.
BR: Has COVID impacted your schedule and are things getting back to normal?
Stéphanie: COVID has had an impact on the tastings. However, we picked up more tastings via zoom rather than in person. But the whiskey casks must be deposited three years in advance, which means that the fermentation process takes time to organize. This whole process has never slowed down throughout the pandemic.
BR: How did you expand your client base and how many do you have today?
Felicia: Word of mouth is powerful and generally huge. We have distillers who come to the farm and know where the product comes from.
BR: What awaits the Whiskey Sisters?
Felicia: We will continue to drink whiskey, for sure. There are always opportunities that arise. Putting our feet under us is first and foremost. Brand growth and our love of whiskey are our priorities. Over time, we will continue to come back to Burlington and bring our product and educate our consumers.