Mills, Wyoming to Taipei, Taiwan
About the business:
Backwards Distilling Company is a family-owned distillery in Mills, Wyoming, that creates award-winning distilled spirits from scratch and delights locals and tourists alike with world-class cocktail experiences at their tasting room in downtown Casper, Wyoming.
How COVID affected things:
Backwards closed their tasting room in mid-March 2020 and had to lay off their entire staff. In addition, all of their bar and restaurant accounts across the state and outside markets that carry their products also had to close their establishments, immediately halting sales.
How Backwards reacted:
Just a few days after closing, in the midst of trying to figure out how to take care of their employees and keep enough money coming in to keep operations going, the urgent need for hand sanitizer became apparent. To address this need, Backwards partnered with several other craft distilleries around the state, the Wyoming Business Council, and the Town of Mills to pivot to making hand sanitizer and distributing it to all the counties in Wyoming.
In total, Wyoming’s craft distilling industry was able to distribute thousands of gallons of sanitizer to emergency management operations across the state in the early stages of the pandemic.
In addition, Backwards owners worked to find ways to bring their staff back as soon as they could by converting to a cocktails to-go model and developing a YouTube Channel to feature their bartenders instructing their guests on how to make some of their favorite Backwards cocktails at home. The video series was very popular and served a long-standing goal to help customers drink better at home.
They have since been able to bring their entire staff back and reopen their tasting room to the public.
“We are so thankful to be back in person with our customers, doing what we love to do best, talking about great spirits and sipping on great cocktails,” shared Amber Pollock, Backwards co-owner.
What the future holds:
While 2020 presented Backwards with an unimaginable challenge, they also feel so fortunate that they've had multiple major opportunities come their way. All of which are a big factor in the distillery coming out of challenging times in a stable position on the other side.
One of the most exciting and unexpected opportunities came through a partnership with the Wyoming Business Council’s trade office in Taiwan. Backwards exhibited some of their spirits at Food Taipei 2020 and later helped to secure a distribution partner for the market.
Their first shipment of spirits was in route to Taiwan in early fall 2021 thanks to the hard work of the State of Wyoming-Asia Pacific Trade Office to help make Amber and team's very first export opportunity a reality.
“It is incredible to think that in a year where just staying open and healthy was our goal, it was also possible to expand our markets and make an international play," Amber exclaimed. "It’s a true testament to the resilience of our team, our industry, our community, and our state.”
“Great place for truly unique and very tasty cocktails. Friendly mixologists and a nice vibe. And you can walk out with one of their great distilled spirits, we got a Cinnamon Moonshine! A Casper must-visit.”
- Todd Papas- Google Review
“I travel a lot for work, and these were some of the best tasting spirits I have ever had. Then they were turned into incredible cocktails by Amber. Amber is a fine chef of drinks. I could not believe my favorite cocktail spot in the country was now in Casper, Wyoming.”
- Peter Jakubowski, Owner Clay Arts Vegas, Oil City News Article