In 2013 the Merritt family opened the state’s first and only legal distillery. They developed an award-winning line of spirits that solidified the brand statewide, with Prairie Wolf Vodka, Loyal Gin and Prairie Wolf Dark. After five years, the Merritt brothers were ready to focus on some of their other businesses and “The Wolf Pack” stepped up and took over.
The Pack consists of brothers Drew and Erik Tekell, and Jonathan Stranger; all from the OKC Metro Area. Since their 2018 purchase of Prairie Wolf Spirits, they have refined the already established spirits and announced the introduction of their own signature spirit—Obahoshe Inland-Style Rum.
Expanding distribution has been a priority. They have placed Prairie Wolf products in four states and plan to be in 12 by the end of the year. Just last April, they won a Gold Medal for Obahoshe Rum and were named Oklahoma Distiller of the Year at the New York International Spirits Competition. The rum has also snagged Gold in the New York Micro Liquor Spirits Competition and Silver in the San Francisco and Los Angeles International Spirits Competitions. Their Loyal Gin has won Gold in previous years and Prairie Wolf Dark has gotten a Best Buy rating of 93 from Wine Enthusiast.
Having such an aggressive business plan has kicked the production facility into high gear. More production requires more room to store supplies and products, added personnel, and the purchase of extra bottling and labeling equipment to keep up with the rapidly expanding distribution. Adding to the growth, another Oklahoma distillery in need of help, contracted with PWS to bottle their spirit. Part of accepting the contract meant they would have to receive a shipment of the other bottles and labels within a few days’ time. A temporary storage container was placed next to the distillery to allow for the sudden increase in bottling.
Since buying the business, The Pack has discussed the need to expand; do they build on, buy another building, move someplace else and build a new facility—all of these options were on the table. But it was soon made clear that they loved being in Guthrie and had zero interest in leaving or moving out of downtown. The building next door has been empty for years, just waiting for Prairie Wolf to occupy it, apparently. It is actually two storefronts with plenty of space for storage and expansion of the production facility in back, a tasting room in the front—different than any ever seen before, and an upstairs with unlimited possibilities.
The Pack now have a contract on the building and hope to begin to bring life back into the space within weeks. The thought of contributing to the vitality of a block that has suffered so much in the past year is something that they are excited about.
Stranger shared, “We are very much looking forward to further establishing ourselves within the community of Guthrie, and the purchase of this building allows us to take the next big step. By expanding our capabilities we look forward to employing more people and eventually adding our long awaited tasting room which we think will be something very special. We will release more details on that part as we are able.”
Prairie Wolf Distillery is further engraining itself into the fabric of the community as each decision is tempered with the initial choice to be a Guthrie brand/business.