Saturday, September 3, 2016

Hidden Gems–Stonehouse Distillery

Billings, MT   High  93  Low 59

I was on my computer looking for whatever while Jim was fishing and I suddenly ran across the fact that there is a distillery in Winston, MT.  That just really was a shock because Winston is not more than a wide patch on the highway. There is a bar and grill, 127 people, and that’s about it. So I really did not expect to find a distillery out in the middle of farmland.

I found this picture on the internet since I forgot to take one.

big bull

The Big Bull Bar and Grill sits right on Highway 287 between Helena and Townsend. We stopped for a hamburger and fries on a Friday night. The burger was fabulous but the fries were almost burnt and the service was terrible. I finally was able to flag the waitress down as we finished eating and showed her the fries. She offered to get us another order but since we were finished eating, we declined and she did take them off our bill. Our second visit was with my sister and brother-in-law and it was a totally different experience. The fries were cooked perfectly and the service was wonderful.

This is a picture of the main road in Winston.


The distillery is about 1 1/2 miles down this road. Jim set up an appointment for a tour at noon on Saturday and we invited my sister and brother-in-law to join us. Don, who has lived in this area all his life, had no idea there was a distillery out here either.

This guy/gal greeted us as we pulled up to the distillery.



John and Snezhi Grahlert are the distillers and owners. John is originally from Germany and Snezhi is from Bulgaria. Check out their website to read more of their story and how they ended up in Winston, MT. -

From their brochure:

Our distilling methods may be old fashioned, but we prefer to think of them as hand crafted techniques created through centuries of tradition. Our grain mill, polished mash tun and Portuguese hand-made copper pot still form part of a meticulously attended small bath progress. All our spirts are hand crafted in-house from grain (or molasses) to glass. You won’t find any automated processing or mass produced alcohol purchased from outside factories.


John was fascinating to listen to. His enthusiasm and his passion for his product was obvious. He also made the bar and the chairs in the tasting room from old mine rails and wagon parts.


Then there was the tasting. The guys tried the Wheat Whiskey, the Corn Whiskey, The Double Barrel Rum and their Bon Fire Bourbon. Both Jim and Don commented on how smooth they were. But I was waiting for the – wait for it – Chocolate Rum. That’s right – chocolate rum. John has developed a method of using cacao beans from Central America and fresh vanilla beans from Madagascar to make this very special rum.


John made us a chocolate martini using the chocolate rum and a special Belgian chocolate syrup topped with shaved chocolate. Those of you who know me, know I do not drink but I just had to taste this martini. Holy cow, it was fabulous.


If you are ever near Helena or Townsend this is really a must do for everyone. Learning about the mashing and distilling was extremely interesting and you couldn’t find a more passionate guy than John to explain the process.


  1. I think it would be worth the trip just to taste that chocolate martini.

  2. Wow that sounds like a really fun day and in a small town to boot !

  3. That sounds like a very interesting tour. I enjoy neat things like this. I'm not much of a drinker but I think I would enjoy tasting the different products - especially the Chocolate Martini.

  4. Wow, that does sound tasty! I'd try one too!

  5. I would try the whiskey and the bourbon, but can't imagine chocolate in my liquor! I rarely drink a martini, but when I do I want lots of gin and a hint of vermouth, with an olive or two! I stick to beer because that hard stuff travels right to my brain! It sounds like a fun place to go.

  6. Gerry and I love to find these quirky out of the way places to visit. If we get back out that way again I will look up this distillery, but not try the chocolate martini. I will leave that for Gerry since she is a chocoholic in the family.

    Have fun out there.

  7. Sounds like a lot of fun. Tell Judy and Don hello for us

  8. Well I might have to try something like that. Well if I went out that way. Sounds like a fun day

  9. I know Susan will want to do some wine tasting somewhere along the way when she comes out. Any kind of real liquor tastes like gasoline to me. Glad you're having a good time.

  10. You find the most interesting places. How about finding some place interesting for us?

  11. A chocolate martini? That might be a special treat for sure!

  12. Well, I love martinis, and that chocolate one sounds fabulous! Without the olives, of course! :)

  13. Good tour! Love visiting those places. Would never have thought to look there:)

  14. How did a teetotaler like you sniff out that distillery in the middle of nowhere? :cD

  15. We love visiting distilleries, wineries, breweries, etc. I didn't see anyone else in the place. Did he say how many people visit?

  16. I'm with you! That chocolate martini just might make a drinker out of me.


Thanks for visiting today. I look forward to reading your comments. Have a beautiful day.