April 11, 2018
Story by Bethany Ziegler // Photos by Caroline J. Phillips
We caught up with Jaime Windon for this month’s High Spirits to look back on Lyon’s first five years in business and ahead to the next five.
How have things changed over the past five years?
We’ve grown from a team of two, to a full-time team of 10 — with some seasonal and family help, it grows to about 13 to 14 on our team. We no longer just make rum — we make nine varieties of rum and rum liqueurs. We do three seasonal whiskeys and we have a number of other experimental spirits in the works. We also, notably, launched Gray Wolf Craft Distilling a year and a half ago, which does their own line of grain-to-glass vodka, gins, and whiskeys here under our roof, in collaboration with us.
But, the things that haven’t changed, is we still do everything from raw ingredient to finished product. Everything comes in this building as a sugar source, whether that’s the grain that gets mashed to make the whiskey or the actual sugar cane and molasses from Louisiana. And then, we do all of the fermentation, distillation, proofing, bottling, infusing, labeling, signing of every bottle, stamping of every batch, by hand.
It’s all still hand crafted, but there’s a lot more hands on the team, which is nice.
What are three words you’d use to describe Lyon?
Three words? I think in 10-word chunks!
For me, our distillery, as far as what happens here and what happens when we’re selling — it’s all about people. It’s about the people who’ve inspired us to make the spirits. It’s the people who are making our spirits. And it’s the people that we get to share our spirits with. For me, that’s it at the end of the day — yes, we are a rum distillery and a booze factory, but we’re a people company, so it’s all about people. The rum is worthless unless people can enjoy it.
The only three words that do sum up our company are: drink more rum. That’s our mantra.
What’s the best part of running a distillery?
It probably comes back to the people. I meet so many people. I never imagined that I would run a business where I would have business partners, where I would have employees, and where I would meet, sometimes, hundreds of people a day. That’s the most fun.
Also, being part of this new industry in Maryland is really exciting. I get the opportunity to work with fellow distillers who are just coming on the scene, people across the country that have been doing this far longer than I have. I’m the president of our Maryland Distillers Guild, so I get to meet with legislators and lobbyists, and work to reform laws to make Maryland a friendlier place to do business and to distill. That’s really exciting.
I never imagined how many facets there would be. It’s not like I just walk in here and turn the stills on. There’s so much that happens, and that’s really cool.