It's been a long time coming but the much awaited opening of Smyrna's Painted Stave Distilling is almost here. Owners Ron Gomes and Mike Rasmussen plan to have a soft opening on Friday, Nov. 8.

Gomes and Rasmussen said they are doing the soft opening for all the people who have supported them and the people who have patiently waited for the craft distillery to open. The closer the duo gets to opening the distillery, the more excited people get. There will be a grand opening later down the road.

"A lot of people stop by and come in asking when we're opening," Rasmussen said.

The business will be the first standalone, independently owned and operated craft distillery in Delaware.

Painted Stave will offer unaged spirits including vodka, gin and white whiskey. They'll also offer aged spirits such as bourbon, rye and brandy. The distillery is located at 106 W. Commerce St., the home of the old Smyrna Theater. Gomes and Rasmussen lease the first floor from Old Smyrna Theater LLC.

Once opened, Gomes and Rasmussen will spend Monday through Thursday making their products, and will then be open for business Friday through Sunday. They'll offer tours, tastings and host events and fundraisers; they've even booked a wedding reception. Customers can buy their products as well. Retail items will also be for sale.

Rasmussen said when they have their soft opening in a couple of weeks, they'll be offering two products; they'll eventually offer the rest of their spirits. Their vodka will be labeled Silver Screen Vodka.

"The name is in ode to the building," Gomes said.

Rasmussen said they thought the name was a good way to embrace the history of the building. The gin will be labeled Candy Manor Gin.

While Gomes and Rasmussen will be offering certain spirits, there will be multiple items offered in the tastings. First off, they'll offer craft cocktails.

"Ultimately we want them to try the spirit, for people to come in and try the products," Rasmussen said. "But we'll put together cocktails so people can see what it would taste like at home."

Gomes said it's important that customers do try the actual spirit. By having customers try the product, Gomes and Rasmussen can better understand the palates of the customers and what flavors they're pulling out of the drink, which will determine when Gomes and Rasmussen will collect the product.

Along with their mainstay spirits, customers will also be able to taste the spirits Gomes and Rasmussen are experimenting with. These experimental spirits will only be available at the distillery.

While the production aspect of Painted Stave Distilling is already underway, there are still a few more aspects of the project that are being finished, mainly the renovations to the building. They are still finishing up the tasting bar, and renovations are being made to the front of the building.

Gomes said other work that's been done along with the renovations of the building are new sidewalks, a new parking lot, and landscaping.

When asked how it feels to be nearing the opening date, both Gomes and Rasmussen said it feels good.

"We're always going to be 'almost done' because there's always going to be something we're working on. It feels good," Gomes said. "We were talking one day and Mike said, 'It's nice to actually say we're a distiller,' and it is."

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