Guest Author | 06/15/2022 | Breweries, Wineries & Distilleries, Distillery & Spirits

Crafting a Spirit of Creativity at Marcotte Distilling Company in Philomath

Joe and Janelle Marcotte are used to zigging where other distilleries are zagging.

When the husband-and-wife team opened Marcotte Distilling Co. in Philomath in March 2018, they did so with—of all things—flavored moonshine. And then when it came time to expand Marcotte’s lineup in the years that followed, Joe and Janelle eschewed the more traditional route—rum, vodka, gin, and the like—for a lineup of sweet cream and flavored whiskey.

Just four years after opening their doors, the duo has enjoyed success around town and throughout the region—and they’ve done so through an inventive lineup, quality products, and by attending regional events, where they win over skeptical drinkers, one sip at a time. “We’ve gotten really lucky,” Joe Marcotte says of the community embracing the distillery.

Here’s how the Marcottes have done it.

Marcotte Distilling, Philomath, Oregon - Bottles of salted caramel and sweet peach flavored moonshine sit on a glass-topped barrel table in Marcotte Distillings Philomath tasting room. Image via

Funny enough, Joe and Janelle Marcotte had never tried moonshine when the two decided to launch a distillery.

The seeds were planted when the duo sold their trucking business in 2016, tired of maintaining their fleet every day; the Marcottes didn’t know what was next, just that they needed a break. And when a pub opened in the community of Philomath—where the Marcottes live, just a few miles west of Corvallis—they figured out what the next chapter might look like.

Joe and Janelle saw how busy the pub was—and how locals were clamoring for locally produced beer, wine, cider, and mead. So they opted to join the fray and open a distillery—and instead of battling big-name brands with the typical spirits, Joe opted to craft flavored moonshine.

Marcotte Distilling, Philomath, Oregon - Cotton Candy flavored moonshine. Photo via Facebook.

When Joe decided to enter the world of moonshine, he had never tried the drink—and didn’t know anyone who liked it. But Joe and Janelle took a research trip to Tennessee in 2017 to see if their gut instinct was right—and found that flavored moonshine was all the rage in Appalachia. Not just that, but the moonshine they tried was good—hardly the backwater beverage it’s long been sold as in the rest of the country. It was the nudge they needed to take that leap.

The duo opened their distillery tasting room in March 2018, sold more than 100 bottles their first weekend, and developed a cult following that demanded a move into a larger space less than year later.

Today, visitors can find Marcotte's moonshine in nearly 20 exciting flavors—such as jalapeño, hazelnut, apple pie, butterscotch, pumpkin spice, or salted caramel—and its lineup can be found in liquor stores around Oregon.

Marcotte Distilling, Philomath, Oregon - Pralines & Cream flavored sweet cream. Photo via Facebook.

The Marcottes try to make it back to Tennessee every so often—and it was on one of these research trips that they found the inspiration for an eventual product expansion.

The Marcottes noticed that, in addition to moonshine, distilleries were producing sweet cream in several flavors—such as watermelon taffy and banana split. “We thought, ‘What a stupid idea; this is going to be totally ridiculous,’” Joe says. “And it was absolutely amazing.”

So the distillery introduced a lineup of sweet creams in October 2019 and has since grown to offer eight flavors—including caramel, pumpkin, chocolate, raspberry and peppermint. In the years since they debuted, the sweet creams have been a hit among customers, Joe says. “The cream just takes every ounce of flavor that we add and creates a bold product,” he says.

Soon after, the Marcottes turned their attention toward another product line. “We’ve had a hard time getting into certain locations—like Portland and Eugene,” Joe says. “We thought that, by doing flavored whiskey, it might open up a few more doors for us.” Not just that, but new customers were stopping into the distillery and invariably asking for whiskey.

Until that point, the Marcottes had never considered distilling whiskey. But it felt like the universe was sending them a message, one they eventually heeded. “Time and time again, we thought, ‘Maybe we should take a look at this,’” he says.

So the duo got to work on flavored whiskeys, tested batch after batch, and after nine months developed a lineup they were happy with. (Says Joe of the arduous testing process: “The whiskey is very hard to flavor; it tends to change a lot on you, so it’s very difficult to work with. Just when you think you’ve got it right, it changes again.”) Marcotte Distillery’s first whiskeys hit shelves in March 2021 and, more than a year later, its lineup includes salted caramel and sweet peach whiskeys. “We’ll never be Crown Royal,” Joe says. “But we can fill that gap in our own area.”

Marcotte Distilling, Philomath, Oregon - Marcottes booth at the Lebanon Brewfest. Photo via Facebook.

Four years in, Marcotte continues to grow through an inventive lineup of beverages that can be enjoyed on their own—or combined for a seemingly endless number of cocktails. But just as important to the success of those spirits, Joe says, is the community around them.

The distillery has created what it calls the Mooners Club, not unlike a wine club, that rewards members with bottles of moonshine, complimentary tastings, discounts on merchandise, and other community-driven perks. The Marcottes also host free tastings every weekend and occasional Cocktail Saturday events, where visitors can try beverages crafted with house-made spirits.

The Marcottes also pour at regional events in the Willamette Valley, creating more avenues to connect with customers who might be shy about trying flavored moonshine and some of the distillery’s other adventurous offerings. As Joe puts it, even at four years old, the distillery is still building awareness and winning converts.

And while the products themselves may differ, they’re all part of a bigger mission to do something new and unique in Philomath. “From the very get-go, we wanted to create something that this area didn’t really have,” Joe says. “And we have a very big group of salespeople that help push it—meaning our customers.”

Article by Matthew Wastradowski. Photos courtesy the Marcotte Distilling Facebook page. Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happenings by signing up for our email newsletter.

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