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Can Do: Headframe Spirits Unearths New Opportunities In Butte

Courtney and John McKee are the founders of Headframe Spirits in Butte, MT.
Courtney and John McKee are the founders of Headframe Spirits in Butte, MT.

Early in the 20th century, the bustling mining town of Butte, Montana was one of the largest cities in the West. Hardrock miners lowered themselves 5,000 feet underground to tap out the abundant copper ore, working in mines with names like Orphan Girl, Neversweat, and Destroying Angel. In the hundred years since Butte’s heyday, most of the mines have closed, but new opportunities have been unearthed.

Using the same determination, innovation, and passion that underscored Butte’s early success, John and Courtney McKee founded Headframe Spirits distillery in 2010. Each spirit is named after a storied mine claim, weaving Butte’s mining history into unique products.

In addition to running a successful distillery and tasting room, the McKees also manufacture stills and distilling equipment. Headframe Spirits Manufacturing is currently the only company in the world to produce continuous flow distillation equipment for the micro-distilling industry.

Today on Can Do: Lessons from Savvy Montana Entrepreneurs, I am joined by both John and Courtney McKee. We will learn about their business journey, and how their products have thrived in a competitive industry that has grown from 350 distilleries in 2011 to now more than 2000 nationwide and over 20 in Montana.

Support for this episode of Can Do is provided by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, dedicated to investing in people to improve the quality of their lives. And from the Greater Montana Foundation, encouraging communication on issues, trends and values of importance to Montanans. And from Blackfoot, providing communications solutions for Montana businesses. Plus opportunities like C2M Beta, an innovation lab aimed at helping startups thrive.

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