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Competitor wins bid for bankrupt Wisconsin distillery

December 25, 2018
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In this March 12, 2018 photo, Travis Hasse, one of the founders of Dancing Goat Distillery in Cambridge, Wis., shows off part of the distillery. Hasse, along with business partner Tom Maas, submitted the winning bid last week in a bankruptcy auction for Death's Door Distillery in Middleton. (Barry Adams/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

MIDDLETON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s largest distillery is on the path to new ownership after filing for bankruptcy last month.

Dancing Goat Distillery, a local competitor in Cambridge, submitted the winning bid of nearly $2.5 million at a bankruptcy auction last week for Death’s Door Distillery in Middleton, a suburb just 6 miles west of Madison.

Dancing Goat partner Travis Hasse told the Wisconsin State Journal that Death’s Door aligned well because it’s a Wisconsin brand with a good Wisconsin story.

“And with our Wisconsin lineage, it felt like it just had good synergy with us,” he said.

A closing will likely be held in early January, according to Hasse.

Death’s Door filed for bankruptcy in November after sales plateaued and the company faced $6 million in debt to more than 100 creditors.

The distillery started in 2007 when the state’s craft distilling industry was still in its infancy. Death’s Door initially contracted out its production until 2012, when the company invested $3 million into the construction of a 25,000-square-foot distillery in Middleton. The building isn’t part of the sale since Death’s Door leases the property.

The distillery was built to produce up to 200,000 cases of spirits annually, but the facility lacked a tasting room and production ended up leveling off at around 30,000 cases.

Dancing Goat, which opened its distillery one year ago, isn’t sure yet whether it’ll keep Death’s Door production in Middleton or move the operation to Cambridge. But the company aims to grow the Death’s Door brand within Wisconsin, Hasse said.

“I think they’ll assess and do what’s best for Death’s Door,” said Brian Ellison, Death’s Door co-founder and president. “I’m extremely excited for them. I think they’re a great Wisconsin company. I’m 100 percent behind what they’re doing.”

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Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj

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