Food and Drink Men's Lifestyle

Behind the Scenes at Bendistillery: CEO Alan Dietrich on Craft Distilling & Crater Lake Vodka

Male Standard is proud to present Alan Dietrich, CEO of Bendistillery, America’s most award-winning craft distillery, as we learn how he and his team of artisan hand-smiths are shaping the craft distillery industry from the inside out; it’s a journey we know you will appreciate for it’s simplicity, and honest-to-good values. You will discover what to expect from this luxe collection. Hint: there’s something in the water! What sets Bendistillery apart from any other distillery in the world, and why Male Standard were excited to support this handcrafted collection. Alan is a remarkable man, with a remarkable vision, backed by an award-winning artisan distillery on a volcanic “Crater Lake,” but who ultimately won us over with his shared desire to create an affordable luxury for the “every-man.”

“Our showcase of products are hand-crafted made with pure Cascade Mountain water and all-natural, local ingredients. Our Crater Lake Vodka is filtered 10 times through charcoal, crushed lava rock and oak. One of the smoothest vodkas in the world with a soft spring water taste and a finish that hints of vanilla. Our Crater Lake Gin is a traditional American-style gin handcrafted with wild, handpicked juniper berries. At 95 proof it is crisp and flavorful with a surprisingly subtle nose. View all our products, recipes, and our schedule of events at”

Meet Alan Dietrich, CEO of Bendistillery

Alan, the CEO of Bendistillery, was gracious enough to take some time out from the hands-on mastery required to bring these delicious liquors into fruition, where he shares his passion and expertise of artisan spirits, including the only estate gin in the world, and reveals what sets Bendistillery apart from this competitive crowd; it truly is a journey that we are in awe of. We know you’ll appreciate the labor of love that goes into each and every bottle handcrafted and signed as much as we do. To celebrate, we have included a challenge for you at the end, so that you can set your own “Male Standard” — but first, explore with us the workings of the inner mind of a master craftsman!

What does it take to be a hand-crafted distillery as opposed to a larger, more conventional distillery?

A willingness to work for a lot less money? Really though, we are very similar to the craft brewers: we have a desire to be hands on and to be a part of the process the whole way.

What does craft distilling mean to you? Recently, it has been referred to as a trend, do you feel it’s a “trend”?

I think we are a trend that is rapidly becoming an established category in the spirits market. “Craft” for me, at least in the context of spirits, means being more concerned with what is in the bottle than what the bottle looks like. Spirits have traditionally been sold based on the package and a marketing image. The craft movement is a return to product quality as opposed to marketing image.

Can you explain the name Bendistillery and its relation to Oregon? Was the idea of starting a hand-crafted distillery in Oregon always the founder’s intention, or did it come from recognizing what the land had to offer?

The name is a play on where we are based – Bend, Oregon – and our founder’s last name – Bendis. He never intended on starting a distillery, but like most entrepreneurs, saw an opportunity and ran with it. So in that respect I would say our name came from recognizing what the land had to offer. Also what our community had to offer. Our location is key to our success. Our water is the most important ingredient in our spirits and without the support of the community we could never have survived. The craft ethic is part of Oregon’s DNA. Our little town of 81,000 people supports 20 breweries, 3 distilleries and 4 wineries. Not to mention numerous family farms, ranches and other craftsmen of all kinds.

Which is your personal favorite Crater Lake Vodka? The original, Pepper, Hazelnut Espresso, or Sweet Ginger?

I love our Pepper Vodka because of its versatility and uniqueness in the market. Everybody assumes it is just for Bloody Marys but I use it in a variety of drinks as well as cooking.

Where does the “hint of Vanilla” originate from in Crater Lake Vodka — is that added, or naturally part of the flavor?

The vanilla character is from the oak. Even though oak aging is universally recognized as the key to mellowing alcohol (whiskey, wine, etc.) nobody uses it in enhancing vodka. Part of the genius of our founder was figuring out how to use oak and still maintain the “flavorlessness” required in vodka. The vanilla from the oak and the sweetness of our water are the keys to what make Crater Lake Vodka so drinkable.

Let’s talk about the smooth finish of the Crater Lake Reserve Vodka. Do you feel Americans expect a fiery finish to their vodka?

No, quite the opposite. I think Americans want a smooth vodka that virtually disappears. It is the eastern Europeans who demand vodka to burn a bit.

What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t drink Vodka but wanted to try something new?

Don’t get trapped expecting vodka to be flavorless. Vodka, like water, can have tremendous variety in taste and mouthfeel. Crater Lake Vodka has real flavor and character – it is what makes us unique. If I were to give a single piece of advice it would be to look for a vodka you can hold in your mouth pleasantly for a few seconds. All alcohol is warm on the pallet but bad booze burns while good liquor leaves you with a soft warmth.

Lastly, what’s your “Male Standard”?

With Crater Lake Spirits I am trying to create a luxury, couture product that is accessible to anybody. The whole farm to table movement puts the power in the hands of the individual. That has great appeal to me.

Exclusive Bendistillery Drinks Recipes

Male Standard will be proudly reviewing our favorite labels from the Bendistillery collection over the coming weeks, along with tried and tested recipes to show you the best ways to get in on this artisan adventure for yourself. As Alan mentioned, this is very much an affordable luxury that we can all enjoy, and one that more men should succumb to. Life is, after all, too short to be spent worrying “what if” all the time. In order to set a new “Male Standard,” we challenge you to try something new with us; simply pick the label that appeals to you most, and join us in mastering this art form as we share expert insight. To give you a “taste” of what is to come, please check out the unique recipes below, as crafted by the Bendistillery Sampling Room, and leave a comment telling us which one you will be “shaking things up” with!

Crater Lake Reserve Vodka

The Crater Lake Reserve Vodka immediately stood out as an excellent bar staple; so few take the time to appreciate vodka for the remarkable drink that it is. Many recipes call on vodka as a critical component when looking for a smooth, flawless taste, but it can quickly become “muddied” for all the wrong reasons. When choosing a quality vodka, the smoothness and aftertaste are vital considerations. Bendistillery have crafted an iconic bar solution in this handcrafted vodka, filtered over 100 times for a finish second to none. We highly recommend this as the select vodka to call on in any opportunity, and is a choice selection for sipping on neat or with your favorite cocktails.

Crush & Tonic

Created by the Bendistillery Sampling Room – Bend, Oregon.

  • 2 oz Crater Lake Vodka
  • Tonic water
  • Lemon slice
  • Lime slice
  • Orange slice

Directions: Muddle fruit in a rocks glass, fill with ice and add vodka. Top with tonic water. Garnish with an orange.

Crater Lake Estate Gin

The Crater Lake Estate Gin is another fine example of the artistry that goes into each bottle; this is the only estate gin in the world, meaning that all the ingredients are hand selected and picked from the surrounding farmland. The result is unlike anything you have experienced. Unlike other gins that are bitter, this almost sweet nectar is a firm summer favorite. The junipers are exactly as described, and offer a fruitful, full flavor that we know you will appreciate. Bendistillery revitalized our taste buds, and brought about tons of opportunity to rekindle our desire for this often overlooked treat. If you are looking to sample something new then we highly recommend becoming a “gin man.”

Wall Street Shuffle

Created by the Bendistillery Sampling Room – Bend, Oregon.

  • 4 oz Crater Lake Gin
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • splash dry vermouth
  • splash sweet vermouth

Directions: Mix ingredients over ice in cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with orange.

Crater Lake Pepper Vodka

The Crater Lake Pepper Vodka was a fantastic hit with all who sampled, with comments on the smooth finish and well balanced kick of the pepper. Like Alan, we have also taken to using this in the kitchen to create simple but delicious recipes that add tons of flavor to chicken and lamb. As we’re partial to Bloody Mary’s, we have included the “Perfect Bloody Mary” recipe below for you to judge for yourself, but you can also find several other interesting variations on the website. We also appreciated the Hawaiian infusion, and will be bringing you different recipes to sample. While there is always a risk of being a “trendy” flavored spirit, we felt the Crater Lake Pepper Vodka fits right at home with the other bar staples.

Perfect Bloody Mary

Created by the Bendistillery Sampling Room – Bend, Oregon.

  • 2 oz Crater Lake Pepper Vodka
  • 4 oz tomato juice
  • 1/2 oz Demetri’s Bloody Mary Spice Blend

Directions: Mix ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake to mix and pour contents, including ice, into a celery salt rimmed glass. Garnish with celery stalk, lime, olive and pickled asparagus spear.

About Bendistillery

Bendistillery was founded in 1996 with the goal of reviving the tradition of handcrafted American gin and vodka, and in the process helped launch the boutique spirits revolution. Located in Bend, Oregon we use only the freshest natural ingredients and pure Cascade Mountain water to create our spirits. We are proud that of the more than 400 wonderful small-batch distilleries in the country today Bendistillery is still winning awards and earning accolades unsurpassed by any.

About Alan Dietrich

A native of Minneapolis, MN Alan graduated from St. Olaf College in 1989 and promptly moved to Bend, Oregon to ski 100 day a year. Alan began working for craft beer pioneer Deschutes Brewery at a time when the industry was just emerging. He soon took a job with a local advertising agency whose clients included Full Sail Brewing. In 2000 Alan left advertising to join the four year old Bendistillery – one of the nation’s first craft distilleries. As Bendistillery began to grow Alan became the National Sales Manager and in 2012 was named CEO. Alan lives in Bend with wife Angela, daughters Scarlett and Coco and their 3 dogs.

Our sincerest thank you goes to Alan for sharing his expertise, we appreciate you taking the time, and sharing your incredible passion! For more information on Bendistillery, please visit to view the complete collection, recipes, and find out shipping information.