Brothers John and Neil Lotz are the founders of Desert Distilling, the only distillery in the Coachella Valley. Their origins were simple—brothers in a basement making concoctions. Not much has changed, they take raw ingredients and turn them into finished products in small batches every day in-house. Keeping the batches small allows them to personally ensure every bottle produced has the exact same quality and finesse—character is never sacrificed for quantity. They are proud to be the Coachella Valley’s first, and only, exclusive boutique distilling brand. Awards and accolades include: Bronze Medal at the 2015 San Diego Spirits Festival, Best in Category 2015 Wheat Vodka, and Silver Medal at the 2015 American Distilling Institute.
Kate Buckley: John and Neil, great to meet you! Where are you from originally, and what brought you to Palm Springs?
John Lotz / Neil Lotz: Originally I (John) owned a lighting company that I sold and part of the deal was for me to move out to the Coachella Valley—that was in 1997. Neil still lived in San Diego at the time and commuted as needed for distillery operations.
And what led you to start a distillery? That had to be an interesting series of conversations and progression of events!
Neil’s business in San Diego is mechanical contracting and he was taking care of the mechanical needs of some breweries—this was a few years back. We noticed the breweries were starting distilleries. We started asking questions and realized laws were changing and this might be a great time to start something truly unique.
Congratulations on your achievements and accolades—your products are already winning rave reviews and awards by such entities as the American Distilling Institute. What’s been your proudest moment thus far?
Just getting our product into the market has been quit a struggle, and now getting into places—we are enjoying watching the momentum build.
And now you’re turning a profit? What’s business like these days? Any plans for expansion?
Not quite yet, it’s a very capital-intensive business so it will take a little bit of time.
Where can people find/buy/taste your products?
We offer tours on Friday and Saturday, open to the general public. Plan to spend a minimum of 60 minutes at our facility. Each tour includes a visit to our tasting room and samples of all of our premium spirits (21+). Please visit our website for places to buy and enjoy—hotels, restaurants, bars.
What do you believe is your greatest strength and your greatest weakness in business?
Our greatest strength is our ability to produce an extremely high quality spirit and do it consistently. No comment on our greatest weakness.
As founders and owner/operators of Desert Distilling, what does a typical day look like for you?
We both have second job so our days are extremely busy and it’s a roller coaster every day.
What sets your brews apart from the others?
Our spirits our extremely unique and that’s what make the craft spirits industry so much fun. You need to try our products—they don’t taste like the big guys’.
When you’re not hard at work, what activities do you enjoy in and around Greater Palm Springs?
Biking, hiking, and golf.
What is it you love most about the community of Palm Springs?
The small cozy feeling of a village (small town), and the way it slightly morphs and grows.
If you go:
Desert Distilling, Inc.
34300 Gateway Drive, Suite 100
Palm Desert, CA 92211
Phone: (760) 770-3135
Desert Distilling Tasting Room Hours
Friday 4 – 8pm
Saturday 2 – 8pm
Sunday By Appointment