Paul and Dan started Whiskey Leatherworks as a leather belt company based out of Missoula, Montana. Since then, they have begun creating other handmade leather accessories, sourced from the local resources they have around them in Montana. They caught our eye with the Bitterroot Wallet – a beautiful leather wallet stitched with fly line. We reached out the WL to hear the story behind their brand.
From Paul and Dan: Whiskey Leatherworks started in Dan’s workshop in Missoula. We didn’t set out with the intention to build a name brand or become a well-known leathergoods company. Our sole intention was to simply create a handmade leather belt, paired with and handmade buckle, both of which needed to be sourced in America and as local as possible. We wanted our belts to be rugged, yet refined, and reflect our affinity for the outdoors in the American West. We wanted a belt that would take us from an upland hunt with our overunders, to sipping whiskey and swapping stories at the local distillery. We wanted a belt our wives would love, our friends would admire, and our kids would inherit. Our pursuit begin with an attempt to find a blacksmith that would be able to produce a high quality, handmade, buckle. We were fortunate to locate a local Missoula metalsmith and artist, Nathan Kimpell, and went to work designing a very unique set of buckles. We also looked at numerous leathers from various American tanneries. We selected a few of the very best and realized we had found a unique combination of buckles and leather like no others on the market. We are very proud of the belts that we created.
We have now turned the same level of attention to designing wallets, bags and other lifestyle accessories. Our criteria in every item we develop remains the same as they were with the development of our belts. Functionality, durability and beauty remain supreme along with a special nod toward our western sportsman lifestyle. The R&D process of our products involves many hours and miles of use in a variety of extreme conditions notorious in the Rocky Mountain West. We put our products through the spring time rain and mud, the dusty dry heat of summer and the cold and deep snows of winter. We drag them through everything from the dark timbered hillsides of elk country, through the thick brush of an upland bird hunt, to many miles on river float trips. This type of product testing typically results in construction materials being changed, attachment points being moved, and hardware exchanged, added, or eliminated. This yields a product design that has been heavily researched, built to hold up to many years of use and a beauty that truly increases with age. It’s a long process, but it’s one that we absolutely love and enjoy.
Dan on the connection between WL and fly fishing: My business partner, Paul Simon, and I are both intentional transplants to Missoula, myself from Atlanta and Paul from St. Louis. We both moved to Montana for similar reasons, which was to live the mountain life in a place where we would spend typically spend vacation. Life for us both is a delicate balance of family, work and spending time outdoors. Winters are spent on the on the slopes. Spring and summer are spent on one of the many rivers of western Montana. Fall is a constant dilemma between fishing the last few hatches of the season and chasing pheasant over freshly cut barley fields. Our products are hopefully a reflection of that spirit.
We choose to use recycled fly line for several reasons. First, was to avoid having a used line end up in the local landfill. Second, it makes a really unique product with numerous line color options available. Most of all, there is a certain feeling that arises in me when I’m away from the water, pull out my wallet, and see the fly line stitching. Even if I’m not on the water, I experience a part of that vibe I only get while fly fishing.