SOU chemistry graduate Molly Troupe (2012) and her business partner are being portrayed by Oregon’s tourism marketing agency as “the women changing the distilling world” at their craft distillery in Portland.
Troupe and Jill Kuehler opened Freeland Spirits in northwest Portland two years ago. Kuehler serves as the CEO and Troupe is the master distiller – placing theirs among the fewer than 2 percent of U.S. distilleries that are owned and operated by women.
Freeland is also set apart by its commitment to fresh ingredients and flavors – such as the cucumber, mint and other farm-to-still components in its trademark gin.
“Distilling is like art, just in the way that you balance out your recipe,” Troupe said in the recent story and video for Travel Oregon, the marketing arm of the Oregon Tourism Commission.
“You try to create ebbs and flows, and top notes and bottom notes, and that beautiful middle note as well,” Troupe said. “All of the recipes we’re trying to achieve here have this amazing balance that takes a lot of time, patience and understanding of the art and science of distilling to actually achieve.”
Troupe earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry with an emphasis on forensics at SOU – where she was a resident assistant for housing, a chemistry lab teaching assistant and a mentor in organic chemistry. She then studied brewing and distilling at Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University, earning a master’s degree and the designation of master distiller.
She served for a year as a quality control assistant at Hood River Distillers and then three years as production manager and lead distiller at Bend’s Oregon Spirit Distillers.
That’s when Troupe was contacted and recruited by Kuehler, who had developed the vision of a women-run distillery that would get most of its ingredients from local, women-owned farms.
Troupe had already begun to make a name for herself as one of the nation’s youngest master distillers, and she has since been chosen for the Forbes Magazine 30 Under 30 list of food-and-drink innovators. She is also on the board of directors of the American Craft Spirits Association.
Freeland Spirits focuses on craft gin and bourbon, distinguished by unique ingredients and pioneering techniques – such as the combination of heat and vacuum distillation that preserves the fresh flavors in its gin.
“We’re starting with West Coast domination – and then the world!” Troupe said in the Travel Oregon video.