The History of Spirits in Utah: From Pioneer Times to Today

Brigham Young’s Relationship with Alcohol

The history of alcohol in Utah is deeply intertwined with the state’s unique cultural and religious heritage. One of the most significant figures in this history is Brigham Young, the second President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and a pivotal leader in the settlement of Utah by Mormon pioneers. Despite the modern association of Mormonism with abstinence from alcohol, Brigham Young’s relationship with alcohol was more nuanced.

In the mid-19th century, Mormon pioneers, led by Brigham Young, trekked across the United States to settle in the Salt Lake Valley. Upon arrival, they established a community based on self-sufficiency and communal principles. During these early years, alcohol was not entirely prohibited. In fact, Brigham Young himself oversaw the establishment of a distillery in Utah. In 1851, the Deseret Manufacturing Company was founded under Young’s direction, producing whisky and other spirits. This was in line with the practical needs of the settlers, who used alcohol for medicinal purposes and in social contexts.

However, Brigham Young’s stance on alcohol began to shift over time. By the 1860s, he started to advocate for temperance, influenced by the broader temperance movement sweeping across the United States and his growing concern over the social problems associated with alcohol consumption. In 1861, Young issued a call to cease the distillation of whisky in Utah, marking the beginning of a long-standing tension between the LDS Church and alcohol.

The Evolution of Alcohol Laws in Utah

The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw significant changes in alcohol laws in Utah. The state’s journey through Prohibition was particularly impactful. In 1917, Utah enacted state-level prohibition, three years before the national Volstead Act took effect. When national Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Utah followed suit, but the legacy of strict alcohol regulation remained.

Throughout the 20th century, Utah maintained some of the strictest alcohol laws in the United States. These laws reflected the values of the predominant LDS Church, which officially prohibits the consumption of alcohol. For many years, the state’s laws included restrictive measures such as the requirement for private clubs to serve alcohol, limits on alcohol content in beer, and stringent controls on liquor sales.

In recent decades, however, there have been gradual changes aimed at modernizing and liberalizing these laws. For example, the infamous “Zion Curtain” law, which required restaurants to prepare alcoholic drinks out of the view of patrons, was partially repealed in 2017. Additionally, the state has adjusted laws to accommodate the growing craft brewing and distilling industries, reflecting a slow but steady shift in cultural attitudes towards alcohol.

Clear Water Distilling: Changing Perceptions in Utah Valley

Amid this evolving landscape, Clear Water Distilling we want to stand out as beacon of change in Utah Valley. As a private distillery located in Pleasant Grove, Clear Water Distilling we are dedicated to producing high-quality spirits but also to reshaping the local perception of alcohol.

Clear Water Distilling’s approach is multifaceted. By focusing on craft distillation and offering unique products that celebrate local heritage and flavors, the distillery emphasizes quality over quantity. Their tasting room, which is open seven days a week, provides a welcoming environment where visitors can learn about the distillation process and appreciate the art of spirit-making. This educational aspect is crucial in changing perceptions, as it demystifies alcohol and presents it as a product of craftsmanship and tradition.

Moreover, here at Clear Water Distilling’s  we stay involved with our community events, such as hosting cigar events and providing tours, helps to normalize moderate and responsible alcohol consumption. This approach aligns with a broader trend of modern temperance, which advocates for enjoying alcohol in a controlled and educated manner.

Through these efforts, Clear Water Distilling is not only contributing to the local economy but also playing a key role in transforming the cultural narrative around alcohol in Utah Valley. By highlighting the historical context and embracing a modern, responsible approach to alcohol, Clear Water Distilling is bridging the gap between tradition and contemporary lifestyle.

Educational References and Sources

For those interested in delving deeper into the history of alcohol in Utah and Brigham Young’s relationship with distilleries, the following sources and educational references provide valuable insights:


– Quinn, D. Michael. *The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power*. Signature Books, 1997.
– Arrington, Leonard J. *Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900*. University of Utah Press, 1993.

  • Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC): Visit their official site at Utah DABC for current laws and regulations.

  • Utah Historical Society: Access their archives and historical documents at Utah Historical Society.

Clear Water Distilling we are leading the charge in redefining Utah Valley’s relationship with alcohol, fostering a culture of appreciation and responsibility that honors both history and progress. Through education, quality craftsmanship, and community engagement, we are changing the narrative one spirit at a time.