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Deep Ellum Distillery’s Vodka Master Takes His Show on the Road

Cheers to Reade Huddleston, who may be leaving for Montana, but he's still leaving behind some good vodka.
Cheers to Reade Huddleston, who may be leaving for Montana, but he's still leaving behind some good vodka.
Deep Ellum Distillery

A Dallasite who helped launch Deep Ellum Distillery is leaving our city, state and region — and he’s taking his skills with him.

Reade Huddleston, 27, is leaving this weekend to be the head of production at Headframe Spirits in Butte, Montana.

A graduate of St. Mark’s School of Texas, Huddleston received his undergraduate degree in natural science and entrepreneurship from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.

He then received a master’s degree in brewing and distilling sciences at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Yeah, not an item on the résumé we see all that often.)

“Many people that enter the industry come from all different backgrounds,” Huddleston says. “I know there are a few Watt grads that are in the DFW area, but most people do not have formal training. That is not to say that they are not accomplished in their own right, and Dallas contains some excellent distillers.”

Since graduating, he’s worked at a number of breweries and distilleries, including Stewart Brewing in Edinburgh, Eau Claire Distillery in Alberta, Canada, and Tom’s Town Distilling Company in Kansas City, Missouri.

Of course, getting the job as head distiller of Deep Ellum Vodka, which launched nearly two years ago, meant he could come home. It wasn’t uncommon to see Huddleston behind the bar at the distillery, explaining the different flavors he had for tasting in the infusions bottled behind him. While he was talking to customers, sometimes a number of them would be people he’s known since high school.

“Deep Ellum (Distillery) was amazing to work with, and all the people that are there are pretty damn awesome. I really enjoyed just getting to help launch a brand and build a team of remarkable people,” he says.

That’s not hard to believe with the vibe of the distillery, at least in front of house where you have a comfortable sitting space with plenty of room for the weekend crowd to explore vodka: the drink in its pure form or in intentionally created cocktails. (We’re not talking Cape Codders in small plastic cups with tiny, flimsy straws — which admittedly have their time and place.)

“Helping to create a brand is never easy; there is always something that needs to be done or could have been done better. Hindsight is 20/20,” he says of launching Deep Ellum Distillery. “However, the challenge was fun, and I got to do it with a great group of people. My official role there was head distiller, which means that I was where the buck stopped when it came to production. I helped write (standard operating procedures) and create an amazing production team that will take over now that I am gone.”

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His future employer seems ready, already posting on Facebook to welcome Huddleston.

“I met Reade at a distillery conference a few years ago and was totally blown away by his knowledge of not just hooch, but obscure and weird hooch, which makes me certain that his knowledge of plain-jane whiskey is top notch. I’m psyched to learn from and be taught by a graduate of Heriot-Watt, and even more excited to be a part of making Butte, America, Reade’s new home,” Headframe owner John McKee said on Facebook.

Huddleston will head north while we sit in 100-degree heat. But Dallas will still be home.

“I will miss the mild winters and the endless options for food and drink. I will miss walking around Old East Dallas and looking at the houses, and I will miss visiting Bishop Arts on Bastille Day,” he says. “However, I will miss my friends and the community that I built here most of all.”

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