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Team Headframe

JOHN McKEE

Owner, Founder, Chief Technology Officer

John has spent the last 10 years becoming a force of good in the craft distilling industry. Since co-founding both Headframe Spirits and Headframe Spirits Manufacturing in 2012, he has led the development of Headframe’s Spirit brands and the designs of Headframe Manufacturing’s proprietary continuous flow distillation systems.  

He is also a founding member of the Good Guy Distillers, an industry-recognized volunteer group, specializing in making the distilled spirits industry safer, more inclusive and all-around better at what it does.

When John is having a cocktail at the Headframe Tasting Room, you’ll typically find him drinking a Kelley and Pink Grapefruit over ice. When he’s not in the Tasting Room you’ll probably find him floating on a river somewhere in the Western United States.

Courtney McKee

Owner, Founder, Chief Executive Officer

Courtney was raised in Connecticut and moved to Montana to attend the University of Montana, where she received a BA in English Literature. During her first day in Montana, she knew this was where she was meant to be. She celebrated 20 years in Butte in 2021 and couldn’t have chosen a better place to raise her family, launch businesses, and explore what Montana offers.

She’s passionate about Butte, in particular, writing memories with friends, often on rivers and cooking for a crowd. Food is how she says I love you

Courtney and her husband John own Headframe Spirits in Butte, which opened in 2012, and were named Entrepreneurs and Ambassadors of the Year by Governor Steve Bullock in 2014 and 2015.  Headframe Spirits currently employs 27 individuals and has made a significant economic impact in their community. The company is equal parts history and technology, which derives from the rich history and ingenuity that the beautiful hometown of Butte has to offer.

Courtney is the proudest mom to kiddos Tuesday and Cooper, and dog-mom to Kita, a river running, sweet, and loving Golden Retriever. 

Courtney is passionately engaged in developing corporate culture and establishing leadership roles for her employees. As CEO, she loves taking care of Team Headframe—the people, the culture and the brand. As well as empowering her corporate community, she is also committed to fostering opportunities for other entrepreneurs in Montana through the Montana Distiller’s Guild, the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (DISCUS) and the American Craft Spirits Association, where she was a former board member and has co-chaired the Education Committee since 2016. Courtney has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine. 

You’ll find Courtney either floating a river or with her nose in a book, preferably literary fiction, science fiction or fantasy. And when the house is quiet, curled up with a book reading cover to cover.

Courtney is a seasonal cocktail drinker. In warmer weather, she prefers a GFC. When the aspen leaves start changing, she transitions to the Old Fashioned.

Kari Smith

Operations Manager

A fifth-generation resident, Kari was born and raised in Butte. In 2005, she received her B.S. from the University of Montana Western in Secondary Education, with majors in mathematics and English. Kari spent the first 5 years of her professional career teaching high school mathematics before transitioning her career to work in accounting. 

Kari began working with Headframe Spirits in 2013 as a bookkeeper and ​provides​​ administrative, accounting, human resource, compliance, ​operational ​and management support to the growing​ Headframe teams. She was promoted to Operations Manager in 2021. 

In 2015, Kari married her husband Jeremy, who she originally met in high school. Making up for lost time, they quickly rooted their lives together in Butte. They spend the majority of their time together parenting two awesome children and spending time with family.

Kari enjoys drinking both the Winter Campfire and the Canadian Cooler in the Tasting Room, but loves the Kelley Single Malt, unaged at high proof, straight from the still!

Heidi Rosenleaf

Tasting Room Manager

Heidi was born in Butte but raised in Anaconda. She received an associate degree from the University of Montana Western which coincided with a career as a merchandiser and an all-around restaurant guru, but almost immediately was a daycare owner and provider. Running her own business with 15 kids running amuck, needless to say, led her straight to the Tasting Room.

Heidi volunteered with Headframe Spirits through the dirty work of remodeling, then worked in the Tasting Room as a volunteer cocktail slinger. Playing on old cocktail classics and tweaking modern favorites, Heidi cemented her place in the history of Headframe as its first official employee when she decided to give up the daycare gig for a new and exciting career change.

Currently, Heidi wrangles up to 10 spirit slingers with great pride. Because Heidi understands how distinct the spirits of Headframe are, she inspires creativity and challenges her staff to experiment with the unique flavors and botanicals with regular menu additions and seasonal favorites. Overall, Heidi takes on the great responsibility of making sure the Tasting Room is energetic, welcoming, and a place to learn the history of Butte.

Outside of her responsibilities at Headframe, family life is important to Heidi as well. When not chasing her daughter on the basketball court, she enjoys spending time at the cabin with her family and friends, where the hostess in her continues to shine.

kat shackleton

Tasting Room Assistant Manager

If you’ve ever been in our Tasting Room, chances are you’ve met our Assistant Manager Kat. Her bubbly personality can be felt–and heard–as soon as you walk through the door as she greets you with a smile. 

Kat moved to Butte a few years back to be closer to her family in Deer Lodge. The first time she stepped through the doors of the Tasting Room, she knew this was where she wanted to be and applied to be one of our spirit slingers. 

After growing up on a ranch, Kat learned what it means to be a hard worker and is always up for a challenge. Using determination and innovation, you will often find her playing with new recipes in our Tasting Room like she has for the past two years.

When she’s not at work, Kat enjoys the sunny days at one of our beautiful Montana lakes with her dog, Luna Bear, who also loves being in the water. 

Her favorite drink is the Banff Beauty. We could explain it to you, but why don’t you stop in and ask her yourself?

Blake Mueller

Production Manager

In our Distillery, you will find Blake Mueller our Production Manager. He moved here in 2022 with his girlfriend and two dogs with the goal to continue improving and expanding Headframe’s already stellar spirits portfolio.

Originally from St. Louis, Blake comes to Butte from Seattle after spending 9 years on the West Coast. In 2012 he graduated from Truman State with a B.S. in chemistry and a minor in forensic science.

After spending the first year and half of his career working odd quality control jobs, Blake decided it was time for a change and broke into the craft beer and spirits industry in 2014 and hasn’t looked back since.

Blake enjoys both indoor and outdoor pursuits, from snowboarding and hiking to playing video games and Dungeons & Dragons. He has also taken to home bartending, where he is constantly playing with new ideas for cocktails, as well as homemade spirits and bitters.

In the tasting room you’ll often catch him sipping on a Manhattan or Old-Fashioned, but more often you’ll see a glass of Cask Strength Neversweat, neat, in his hands.

Andrew Knapp

Manufacturing Manager

Andrew has been a team member at Headframe Since 2015, primarily working in stills fabrication and distillation equipment. Now, he has taken on several other responsibilities such as scheduling and tasking the fabrication team to maintain an efficient workflow and developing and implementing ways to improve the quality, speed and cost of the fabrication process. Andrew is part of our problem-solving team focused on implementing solutions for existing processes and equipment.

To date, he has built over 20 stills for Headframe.

Andrew was born and raised in Butte. As a kid, if he wasn’t playing soccer, he was looking for things to build or take things apart. He considered being an architect before taking welding as an elective class in high school. With natural talent and an eye, he went on to Highlands College and earned an associate degree in Metal Fabrication while working at Montana Precision Products, where he did aerospace welding with the added responsibility of visual weld inspection.

Currently, Andrew is a student at Montana Tech completing a Mechanical Engineering Degree. He loves animals, especially dogs and has 3 rescues; a German Shepherd mix, a Great Dane and a Great Dane mix. He fears spiders, the giant squid and talking in public. He somewhat reluctantly works as a maintenance man for his mother and continues to cultivate a lifetime goal of a big red Viking beard.

Andrew enjoys challenging himself by attempting to ‘build before buy’, which led him to build his own computer. He loves gadgets and technology including video games, virtual reality and smart home technology.

His favorite cocktail is an Old Fashioned made with Kelley or Bottled in Bond.

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