Steamboat Whiskey pivots business model and closes downtown tasting room

Owners Jessica and Nathan Newhall opened the doors to the Steamboat Whiskey Co. tasting room at 1103 Lincoln Ave., in December 2019. Newhall confirmed Thursday, September 15, that the tasting room had been closed as the couple pivots towards a distribution model centered on their Warrior Whiskey brand.
John F. Russell / Steamboat Pilot and Today

The doors to Steamboat Whiskey Co.’s downtown tasting room have closed, and on the next two Saturdays owners Nathan and Jessica Newhall will be selling their inventory as the business takes on a new direction.

“The Steamboat Whiskey Co. bar and restaurant is closing – well, it’s effectively closed,” Jessica Newhall said earlier this week. “Now we sell bottles because we have a lot of inventory of all the wonderful products we make.”

The 2,000 square foot bar and restaurant has become a downtown Steamboat Springs staple since it opened in December 2019. That’s when the Newhalls expanded the operations of Steamboat Whiskey Co., which was introduced to a small tasting room at 55 11e St. located directly across from the production facility that made Steamboat Distillery products a few years earlier.

Last week, a large mobile sales sign appeared on the building, and on Thursday, September 15, the owners confirmed they were closing the location, but would continue to produce award-winning Warrior Whiskey in a larger facility.

“We decided to pivot the business to a distribution model and stick to our Whiskey Warrior brand, that’s what really got us started,” Newhall said. “It was our first product, so we will continue production of it at a larger facility in Colorado Springs.”

She said the recipes and process will remain the same, but they have entered into what she calls a co-packing agreement with a larger distillery that will produce Warrior Whiskey and continue to distribute to retailers.

Jessica Newhall said a number of factors led to the decision.

“I think it was a combination,” she said. “The fallout from COVID and the housing crisis, which has been exacerbated by COVID and the lack of skilled workers, which has also been exacerbated by COVID.”

She said they were struggling to find workers and the pressure that came with growing the business presented many challenges.

“It’s just been my husband and I for 18 months or something,” Newhall said. “We have a 14-month-old baby, so we want to find a little more work-life balance, which is hard to do when running a busy production plant, restaurant, bar and terrace. We were no exception to the great resignation.

She said the couple also wanted to focus on building the Warrior Whiskey brand, which they originally planned to do.

“We had so much fun with the bar, and then we expanded the bar,” Jessica Newhall said. “Now we’re just trying to bring the focus back to our original purpose.”

Currently, that goal is to liquidate bar and restaurant items and remaining inventory. The Newhalls plan to be in the Tasting Room, 1103 Lincoln Ave., from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

“We only sell bottles and whatever people might want to buy at the bar,” Newhall said. “The community has been great and the people have been great…we’re really, really happy about that.”

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