Murphy & Jeff Quint

Murphy Quint – 10 Years & 10 Generations

As Murphy Quint, Cedar Ridge’s Director of Operations and newly appointed Master Distiller, celebrates his tenth anniversary with the distillery, he took a few minutes to look back at his family’s history in the business, and what may lie in store for the future.

Murphy (his Irish first name is a tribute to his mom’s ancestry) can trace his family’s patriarchal history back ten generations, to the year 1717.  That’s when his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Gerlach Quint, was born.  Gerlach moved from Neumagen, Germany to Wintrich, Germany in 1750 as translated from the Wintricher Blättern historical records: Gerlach Quint settled in Wintrich around 1750 where he made a living by producing and ‘oaking’ wine barrels. Most of the oaking was done in the months from August to October. The rest of the time he was continuing his ongoing business of craftsmanship. All of his sons were craftsmen. The family got established in Wintrich. And time after time, mainly through marriage, they became farmers and wine growers. Today, only wine growers. Nearly all of the still existing wine families in the Wintrich area are related to Quint. Just like back in time, some of them still travel around from fair to fair, to sell their goods or wine.

“To this day, if you visit Wintrich, Germany, which is in the heart of the Mosel wine region, you’ll see the prominent winery there is still Weingut Quint, owned and managed by Murphy’s distant cousins.” adds Jeff Quint.

In 1881, Murphy’s great-great-grandfather, Johann Quint, migrated from Wintrich to Farley, Iowa, bringing with him the skills of the trade.  The family’s old 3-gallon pot still and wooden apple press are still proudly displayed in Cedar Ridge’s tasting room today.  Murphy’s team still produces a wine called “Howdy’s Apple Pie” in memory of his grandfather, Howard “Howdy” Quint, who passed these tools down to Murphy.  Murphy can still recall playing among the small orchard of apple trees at his grand-dad’s home near Winthrop, Iowa, where grandpa Howdy made apple wine and spirits on a small scale.

By the time Murphy was a teenager, his parents, Jeff and Laurie Quint, had established Cedar Ridge.  He recalls his early years there, and how he evolved from working a few spare hours after school into a full-time position there:  “I grew up working for my parents at Cedar Ridge – harvesting grapes, mowing the grounds, fermenting wines, running the still, etc.. I really enjoyed it and after graduating college, I decided to explore the field further. Eventually I landed a job at Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey where I was able to work with some of the most talented people in the business. While I was there, I fell in love with this industry, the work, the people, and the lifestyle that it brings with it. Eventually it was time to move back home and start a family, and that’s when I came back to Cedar Ridge.”

Murphy’s current tenure at Cedar Ridge has now crossed another ten years, as he returned to the business full-time in May, 2014.  One of the first things Murphy argued for was to move the company away from treating all their spirits equally, beginning a focus on whiskeys.

“When I originally came back to Cedar Ridge, the company was producing a little bit of everything – bourbon, rum, brandy, vodka, etc, with no real focal point to its product portfolio. Considering that I was exposed to a major whiskey boom while I was working in the state of Colorado, I pushed hard for Cedar Ridge to focus on whiskey production, specifically bourbon. We grow corn in the state of Iowa. Bourbon is made from corn. It just made sense.”

While the company’s Cedar Ridge Bourbon has become the #1-selling 750ml Bourbon in Iowa for several years now, Murphy didn’t stop there.  He wanted to leverage their assets as both a distillery and a winery.

Several years ago, Kent Foulker, the Winemaker from his team created the company’s first whiskey-finished wine, their Double Oak Red, which is first aged in wine casks and then finished in their ex-Bourbon barrels.  Then, Murphy took a project his father had started to the next level, combining their passion for whiskey with their ancestral history in the wine business.  “My dad and I have always been passionate about single malt. He grew up drinking Scotch, and I had worked at one of the best American Single Malt distilleries in the country. He had traveled Scotland and become excited about Double Wood single malts and Solera style finishing. I wanted to make sure we use a lot of wine casks in the process to honor our wine-making roots.” They took the result of this work and rebranded it to create The QuintEssential American Single Malt.  Today, The QuintEssential is among the top-selling and top-rated American Single Malts in the World, having recently achieved an unprecedented 97-point score from Wine Enthusiast Magazine (May 2024).

So what’s next for Murphy Quint and Cedar Ridge Distillery? “We have some really exciting cask finished whiskeys coming down the pike, specifically sherry, port and estate red wine finished bourbon, rye and single malt”. Murphy’s team will be releasing several new iterations of finished whiskeys over the next two years, as these projects reach maturity.  And with three kids, including a son they named Cooper, who knows?  Maybe it’s only a matter of time before the eleventh generation works their way into the business.

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