In honor of World Deaf Day, a local distillery is planning a special tour for the hearing-impaired.
New World Distillery, in Eden, will be offering a tour and spirit-tasting at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 28, at the distillery, 4795 E. 2600 North. Advance registration is required. The hour-long event will include a tour of the facility as well as a curated tasting featuring a full flight of spirits. Participants must be age 21 or older.
Husband-wife owners Chris and Ashley Cross opened the distillery three years ago this December. In a recent interview, Ashley Cross talked about the reason they started New World.
“The short answer is, we turned a hobby into a business,” she said. “I was in public education for 23 years and did not want to go back for a 24th. Chris’ previous life was military, as a naval aviator. We came here for three years and we just didn’t want to leave.”
So, she says, they thought: “What do we have to do to stay?” The answer was for Chris to switch from the Navy to the Air Force and finish his career in Utah.
From the beginning, New World Distillery has been offering tours and tastings. offered tours. Cross says she and her husband built the entire facility with an educational focus.
“We built the facility around that whole educational component,” she said. “The spirit industry is just not as understood — everybody has done a wine tour, or a brewery tour, but we’re about 20 years behind the craft beer industry.”
Cross says their tours have been “very popular,” and she’s always thinking about ways to engage people who might want to do a tour like this but are afraid.
“Maybe they don’t drink, or they haven’t been drinking long,” she said. “You can learn about wine-tasting from watching TV, but most people don’t know how to taste spirits.”
New World Distillery offers tours at noon, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. Cross says they just love the idea of teaching people how to read a bottle of spirits.
As for the idea for the deaf tour, Cross says they were having a conversation with a friend of theirs whose wife is deaf.
“They came to the distillery, and he (the husband) was interpreting everything Chris was saying to her — at breakneck speed,” Cross said. “It got me to thinking how many deaf people would like to do this tour but can’t, or might be intimidated by it.”
The couple decided to set up a tour in honor of World Deaf Day, which is the last Sunday of September. The distillery is required by law to be closed on Sundays, so they set it up for the day before, a Saturday.
Normally, tours are $20, but the Crosses decided to offer the 3:30 p.m. deaf tour for half price, $10.
“We didn’t want price to be a barrier to entry for those who are deaf,” Cross said.
Husband Chris will lead the tour, but Cross says they’ll have two interpreters on hand to translate. Cross feels a bit sorry for the interpreters.
“He can get pretty technical and chemistry-geeky,” Cross says of her husband.
They hope to make the World Deaf Day tour an annual event.
Cross admits it would have been a lot easier to start a distillery in another state that wasn’t alcohol-controlled like Utah. But she also likes the idea of bucking convention.
“On the flip side of that coin, this really is good for tourism, good for Utah,” she said. “There’s always that notion that you can’t get a drink in Utah, that there’s nothing crafted here. We like to think we’re dispelling that notion.”
Cross pointed out that most folks in the community — even those of the predominant religion, which frowns on the consumption of alcohol — have been extremely supportive of their New World Distillery dream.
“I feel more engaged in the community running this distillery than I did as a teacher,” Cross said.
Cross and her husband never imagined themselves staying in one location — until they moved to Utah.
“In the Navy it was move, move, move,” she said. “But we got to Utah and literally said, ‘What do we have to do to stay?’”
In trying to explain the allure of the state, Cross says she thinks it’s “the expanse.”
“You can stretch here,” she said. “It’s super-friendly, the landscape is beautiful, and the air is clear up here in the valley. There’s a healthy sense of being in the West; it’s just healthier than the East Coast and the South.”
To register for the special New World Distillery tour and tasting in celebration of World Deaf Day, visit newworlddistillery.com, or call 385-244-0144.