A freshly minted Missouri State University graduate and four-year golf letterman, Bill Welter packed his bags and traveled across the pond in 2000 to find himself.
“I applied for a work visa not even thinking I’d get it and then, lo and behold, I did and I remember being scared to go over there,” Welter said of his journey to St. Andrews, Scotland, widely considered the home of golf.
“What was supposed to be a six-month stint turned into 18, and I don’t think I would have left except for the awful weather.”
Welter co-owns Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks with his wife, Johanna. His appreciation of whiskey blossomed during his time in Scotland where he befriended Tasmania native Greg Ramsay, a Scotch whiskey aficionado and bartender at the hotel restaurant where they both worked.
Upon returning to the states, Welter committed to his family’s third-generation banking business until it was sold unexpectedly in 2006. Over the next few years, he gained restaurant experience with the intent of eventually opening his own. He decided against it and headed to Tasmania to reunite with Ramsay and learn how to distill.
Back in the Midwest with a new vision, Welter discovered his dream distillery home: a former buggy whip and corset factory founded by EK Warren in 1883.
Today, that vision is reflected in a unique multi-enterprise operation. In addition to the distillery, which distributes to several states, there is also a tasting room, a restaurant, an event venue, a catering facility, a grainery and an 18-hole, 30,000-square-foot outdoor putting green inspired by the Himalayan putting green in St. Andrews.
Yes, you can putt with your cocktail.
“I think in many ways what makes Journeyman so unique is the marriage of the manufacturing facility for distilled spirits and a really unique hospitality experience,” Welter said. “In fact, I’d argue that we were one of the first to really take that model and run with it.”