Local distillers of rum, vodka, and gin Islamorada Distilling were recognized with one gold, three silver, and two bronze medals in a national competition among distilleries organized by the American Distilling Institute. 

Islamorada native and resident Chris Trentine, his wife Whitney, and college friends Tyrone Bradley, Jose Herrera and Keys local Nik Schroth started the local distillery, building on the success of their brewery, Islamorada Beer Company, which occupies the bright yellow building next door.

When the company began producing rum on its 40 gallon still in 2017, the co-founders hardly anticipated winning one prestigious distilling award within the first year, much less two. They could only dream that a year later they would be operating a full-time distillery with a lineup of multiple rums, vodka, and gins and walking away with six medals in the sought-after National Judging of Craft Spirits. But that’s exactly what happened on March 20 at the trade group’s conference in Denver.

It was an incredible moment for CEO Tyrone Bradley andhead distillers Stephanie Harper and Pat Byrne.

“It’s an honor for us to receive this level of recognition so early on, and to represent the Florida Keys on this national stage” Bradley said. “There are so many craft distillers producing high-quality spirits, and we are proud to be among the best of the best.”

If you’ve stopped by the Islamorada Brewery & Distillery lately, you’ve probably seen Harper — also an Islamorada resident — overseeing the distillation or tinkering with the different valves and equipment on the shiny 100-gallon still that was installed last year to increase production. In coordination with Bradley and Byrne, she helms the local operations “from molasses to glasses,” since the company produces rums that are distilled, aged and bottled right in the building. The gold medal-winning Reserve Rum, for example, spent one year and nine days aging in the new American oak barrels lining the distillery’s walls.

“The island air in Islamorada plays a part in the process,” Harper said. “There’s a little magic and a lot of hard work in everything we do.”

The other products recognized at the event include Barrel Aged Rum (Silver), Dark Barrel Aged Rum (Silver), Gin (Silver), Vodka (Bronze), and Hibiscus Gin (Bronze).

Islamorada Brewery & Distillery is located at mile marker 82.2 oceanside.

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