Family-owned business takes chef’s approach to whiskey-making

Brandy Strauser Sobanski and her parents Nicholas and Connie Strauser pose for a photo in their family owned distillery, N Scott Distillery, located in Las Vegas, May 18, 2018.

Nicholas “Nik” Strauser was 6 when he started learning how to cook from his mother and grandmother in Hawaii. He would grow up to become a professional cook, then eventually move to Las Vegas. His knowledge of cooking and enjoyment of whiskey led his wife to suggest he make his own spirits. So he poured himself into the process, and the result was N. Scott Distillery.

Tell us about N. Scott Distillery.

N. Scott Distillery is a family-owned and -operated craft distillery.

On his wife’s suggestion, Nik set out to learn all he could about the art of distilling. It occurred to him that distilling relied on the same skills as cooking. He saw all the equipment — the still, mash tun, fermenters and grain mill — as cooking equipment. The quality of the equipment and the skill to use it greatly affect flavor. He also realized that understanding how assorted flavors work or don’t work together could make a dramatic difference in the taste of his spirits. He even looked at the aging process and treated it like an ingredient too. Finally, he applied a requirement, for himself, that any spirit he made would have to be tasty and smooth enough to drink neat and at room temperature like a fine red wine would.

Who are your customers?

N. Scott Distillery

• Address: 3065 N. Rancho Drive, Suite 144, Las Vegas

• Phone: 702-907-2013

• Email: [email protected]

• Website:

• Hours of operation: By appointment

• Owned/operated by: Nicholas Scott Strauser

• In business since: 2016

The slate is clean. We know we have a daunting task of winning over people who have been so familiar with distilleries that have made their mark for decades and even hundreds of years. It isn’t going to be easy to get someone who has been drinking Jack Daniel’s for decades to change their habit.

Some of our techniques challenge certain conventions. Our distiller kept techniques that have not been improved upon and changed those that are outdated. His only restriction was on taste.

We think younger consumers grew up thinking outside of the box, and this will make them more open to what we are doing. For the older, established drinker who is loyal to a certain brand, we can only say, “Give us a try.” Remember, our founder and master distiller was just like you, until he challenged himself.

What sets you apart?

Many distilleries don’t distill their products; they buy their spirits from huge distilleries that make massive reserves of product. Many brand name spirits from large distillery companies don’t make their own products, as well. This is called “sourcing.” We are not saying this is wrong, as many of these sourced spirits are very good. It just is not what we got into distilling for.

We use our own skills and hands to make our products.

How many are on your team and what special talents do they contribute to the business?

Apart from Nik Strauser, there is his wife, Connie, who is CFO. She is retired from the City of Las Vegas and brings several valuable skills to running the business. Nik’s daughter Brandy is director of marketing and sales. She is a gifted communicator and is a people person who also understands social media and marketing. Her husband, James, is an IT and tech wizard who keeps everyone connected and our tech gear running. Nik’s big brother, Jeff, is our chief engineer and has an amazing ability to fabricate and build anything we need but can’t find anywhere else. Our 7-year-old granddaughter Kayla is head of housekeeping. She is not satisfied until the still and floors shine.

Do you see any expansion in the future?

We hope to expand in the next year to allow for a bigger tasting and event room. As for the distilling plant itself, we will evaluate the demand for growth as we go. One of the reasons our products are so good is because we keep our process to a small batch and hand-craft everything.

What is your business philosophy?

Nik’s mother likes to tell him, “if you are going to eat, eat something that tastes good.” That has stayed with him his whole life. He now applies that thinking to spirits. If you are going to enjoy a drink, drink something that tastes good.

What is the best part about doing business in Las Vegas?

Our family has been in Las Vegas for almost 25 years. The people here are very supportive of local businesses. The governments from the state, county and city recognize the importance of local business to the economic health of our community. Las Vegas is founded by pioneers of all types who created an open-thinking community to all the possibilities.

What obstacles has your business overcome?

Since Nevada did not legalize distilleries until four years ago, you can imagine the learning curve for everyone involved. Each government has had to create rules and processes for allowing distilling. We definitely have had our share of learning things as well.

We are far from completing the obstacle course we are running. In fact, we have another appearance before the city council coming up that will hopefully complete a long process of amending city law and complete the distillery license process.