The Mill and Creamery buildings, each over a century old, are some of Carson Valley's oldest structures — they’re the heart and soul of this small agricultural town. As an estate distillery, we wanted to safeguard that history while creating an experience rooted in place, process, and preservation.

To achieve this, we spent five years redesigning the Mill and Creamery to meet the highest standards of design and environmental responsibility. While the construction process was intensive, it was carefully orchestrated to minimize waste and preserve everything possible — in some cases, even the original bricks themselves.

Both the Mill and Creamery are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The word “preservation” isn’t just about sustaining a building’s existing form; it’s about protecting the structure for future generations. We focused on repair rather than replacement; on maintenance rather than remaking.

Preservation

Wherever we rebuilt, we carefully removed the original materials, got the work done, and then put the pieces back together. We even removed the original Silo roof and then rebuilt it on the ground. The new roof structure was then craned into place and this work was all completed without changing the original architectural appearance of the building.

Other original materials that were preserved or reused include bricks, timber, railroad ties, rail line, steel elements of the silos, and roof trusses. We’ve also kept all of the original machinery from the Mill operation. It is safely stored for the day when we’re able to display it as a part of honoring the history of the area and operations.

The construction waste management plan diverted or recycled 64% of construction waste, reducing the need to place usable materials in landfills. Extensive building reuse preserved the extraction, manufacturing, and transportation of new materials, further conserving natural resources.

Harmony With a High Desert Climate

The Heritage campus's landscape designs feature water-efficient and drought-resistant plants appropriate to the climate, supplemented by high-efficiency irrigation. Inside the building, high-efficiency fixtures and facilities boost water savings even further. Both buildings conserve irrigation water use by 81%. The Creamery and Mill conserve indoor water usage by 33% and 47% respectively.

Operating a distillery is energy-intensive; one of the main challenges we faced during this project was how to use less energy in a world-class distillery.

Energy-Efficient Distillation

The facility’s overall design – which includes skylights, high efficiency LEDs, and lighting controls (both occupancy sensors and daylight controls) – has been designed to comply with ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007, resulting in a 40% reduction in annual energy consumption in the Mill and 38% in the Creamery.

In the distillery, equipment was chosen to meet or exceed the typical standard often seen in a distillery of this size. We also integrated several innovative and energy-saving features into the distillery.

Continuous Still, Headframe

The distillation process involves boiling and condensing a mixture in order to separate it. It is a highly energy-intensive process, but one where Bently Heritage has achieved large savings. We operate using a continuous-still built by Headframe Manufacturing, that preheats the feed with stillage, recoving heat and saving energy on the heating process. We split cooling duty between energy-efficient fin-fan coolers, which use ambient air temperature to disperse heat, and a chilled water system; the cooler saves us energy as opposed to a typical water-chilled system. Finally, a condensate recovery system returns steam condensate to the boiler, saving thermal energy and reducing water consumption.

Carl Batch Still

The Carl finishing still condenser is cooled with water from the fin-fan cooler, significantly reducing the energy costs over a traditional chilled-water system. As with the Headframe still, the Carl still also splits condensation duties between a fin-fan cooler and chilled water, reducing thermal energy and allowing us to reuse heat for other purposes.

Reusing Wort

The mashing process features a weak wort recovery cycle. The use of weak worts in the mashing process reduces the use of fresh water. By maintiaining temperature in the already hot weak worts, heat consumption is reduced. This process also nets a higher-alcohol yield, saving even more energy.

Thermal Heating

While Heritage aims to respect old-world traditions, heating stills with direct fire isn't worth the energy cost. Instead, we use thermal oil to re-create the best traits of direct fire while also saving thermal energy. Direct fire systems tend to have about 55% thermal energy efficiency, whereas the thermal oil system has 85% efficiency.

Hot Water

Most distilleries use hot water for cleaning, and first and final rinses. For most distilleries, this water is turned to waste. However, we recover the final rinse for re-use on the pre-rinse, resulting in 33% energy savings. Finally, all hot water at the Creamery is pre-heated with energy recovery from the Mill building.

During the buildout, we discovered historic equipment inside the Mill building. To properly understand all this original machinery, we hired a historian who specializes in flour mills to identify, catalogue, and preserve more than two dozen pieces of equipment.

Preserving the Past

In January 2020, the Bently Heritage campus received LEED Gold certification, the second-highest possible rating in the LEED system. Both buildings also maintain their proud place on the National Register of Historic Places. This is in keeping with our core identity: instead of tearing an old building down, we'd rather preserve it for future generations. This is our heritage.

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