Our Team

Meet our team

We’re a small but mighty group here at Mississippi River Distilling Company. The handwriting on the neck of each bottle we sell is a testament to the hard work and love that goes into each batch of our spirits. Meet the people who bring our area’s finest grains to your rocks glass.

The Burchett Brothers – Ryan & Garrett

Ryan and Garrett BurchettRyan and Garrett Burchett wear many hats around the distillery… Owners, distillers, bartenders, tour guides, cash register attendants, salesmen, and more. You’re sure to see one of them when you stop by the distillery. It’s a labor of love for these two brothers who wouldn’t have it any other way than to stay busy. Natives of Harlan, Iowa, their work ethic and fondness of family business comes from their father and his brothers who have run a road construction company in western Iowa for more than 40 years. Both are trained in the art of distillation with classwork completed in Chicago, Michigan and Germany. They look forward to educating people about the ins and outs of distillation as well as the art of tasting during Mississippi River Distilling Company tours.

Both have enjoyed successful careers outside of their venture at MRDC. Ryan is a familiar face to many as he spent time as a television meteorologist in the Quad Cities and has worked in other Iowa communities including Mason City, Des Moines and Cedar Rapids along with Lafayette, Louisiana. Garrett left his job as a transportation planner in Dallas, Texas to move back to Iowa and work full time at the distillery.

Sean McQueen
National Sales Director

sean mcqueenMississippi River Distilling Company’s Brand Manager is Sean McQueen. A lifelong resident of Davenport, Iowa, Sean knows life along the banks of the Mississippi well. He’s been along for the ride every step of the way as our distillery grew into a reality and we’re proud to have him on board. Sean has 17 years experience working in the public eye as Project Manager for one of the premier custom home builders in the Quad Cities.

From tasting events at the local liquor store to special menu celebrations at your favorite restaurant, Sean is the guy who brings our spirits to the masses. Sean has a great passion for his career. He is always creating new ways to introduce our fans to the art of craft distilling.

When not working tastings and events, Sean can be found volunteering in the community with Big Brothers Big Sisters, spending time with his family and trusty Lab. Contact Sean at sean@mrdistilling.com.

Sam Bergren
Regional Sales

Sam was born and raised in the Quad Cities and has worked in the restaurant industry for the last 15 years. For the past 9 years he’s been working in Chicago’s trendy River North neighborhood.

He left his position as lead bartender at Zed 451, to become a sales representative here at Mississippi River Distilling Company. You can find Sam spreading the word, about what we do at MRDC, throughout the Chicagoland and Milwaukee area.

When he’s not out sharing his passion for our products, you will probably see him enjoying the bustling Chicago music scene with his fiancé, and working on audio projects of his own.  Contact Sam at sam@mrdistilling.com.


Scot Schaar

Scot SchaarIf you stop by Mississippi River Distilling Company about any day, chances are good you’ll see Scot hard at work around the still. Scot joined us in 2012 as a full-time distiller. For our first two years in business, Scot was at the distillery nearly daily delivering packages as part of his old job. He jumped in as a volunteer bottler, helped on First Fridays and sometimes just came to work with us in his spare time. When it came time to expand our team, we knew we wouldn’t have to look far!

Scot was born and raised in Davenport and has a unique background as an accomplished brewer. In his spare time, he is an avid home brewer and travels the Midwest judging brewing competitions throughout the year. Scot has been instrumental in helping us expand our production by keeping the still running more hours and also helping us to refine our mashing process to increase our yields. Contact Scot at scot@mrdistilling.com.

Karen Schaar

Karen has been involved with homebrewing and making her own wines, meads, & ciders for 15 years; some of these actually won awards! She is a Certified Beer & Mead judge through the BJCP program;  and is currently studying for their Cider judge exam. She has passed the 1st level of the Beer Cicerone certification, and is in the process of completing the 1st level of the SWE’s Sommelier accreditation. She is involved with the River’s Edge Fermentation Society’s homebrew club, and is the point person for the Powder Keggers. The PK’s are a group of ladies dedicated to teaching other women how to make their own beers, wines, meads, & ciders.  By day, she is a Pharmacy Tech. In the evenings, she is a distiller! Some of her hobbies include running(slowly), bicycling on local paths & trails, riding parts of RAGBRAI with Team Good Beer, and various other recreational sports. She enjoys gardening, volunteering with area organizations, and traveling in Europe.  Her household includes a tortoise, a hedgehog, a rescue cat & dog, and her husband and fellow distiller Scot.

Kathryn Langford

Kathryn (or Kat as she is more affectionately known as) is a native of Arizona, but has found a home here in Iowa.  Kat has been a friend and advocate for MRDC since we first opened and she was hard at work as a brewer here in the Quad Cities.

In 2016, Kat joined us as a distiller and can now be found working until the late hours distilling whiskey.

When she’s not at the still, she loves biking and exploring the outdoors, traveling to new places, hanging with friends and might even make you a cup of joe.




Stephanie Godke
Spirited Chef

Stephanie GodkeWhen it comes to great taste, Stephanie is the authority. Her delicious original recipes are a mainstay here on our website. She knows how to mix a drink, but more importantly how to use Mississippi River Distilling Company spirits in your favorite entrees, appetizers and desserts. Keep an eye out for Stephanie out in the community as she’ll be hosting special events from time to time to get you cooking with a little extra kick.

Stephanie has a long and storied career in the food and beverage industry. When she’s not inventing new and delicious ways to cook with River Baron Vodka, Stephanie works in the restaurant industry as a consultant helping to bring her expertise to restaurant owners all around the Midwest. She teaches cooking classes at the local community college and also provides catering services around the area.

She’s a busy lady, but she always has time to share a smile and her latest creations. Watch for her delicious recipes here regularly! Have a question about a recipe or ideas for something new? E-mail Stephanie at chefsteph@mrdistilling.com


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