They happen without warning, often when we least expect them. They're lasting and profound. Watershed moments are the ones that change lives.

They happen without warning, often when we least expect them. They're lasting and profound. Watershed moments are the ones that change lives.

Set to release its first spirits, Watershed Distillery hopes to celebrate these moments and inspire more of the same, co-owner Greg Lehman said during a tour earlier this month.

Founded about a year and a half ago, the Grandview imprint also intends to boost the city's growing reputation for quality hand-crafted spirits - another example of the micro-distillery trend brought to Columbus in July by Middle West Spirits.

"It's almost a European model - a unique flavor in each town," Lehman explained. "There's such a push for local right now."

Watershed's first batches of vodka and gin head to state warehouses Dec. 1. By the following week, bottles will pop up in about 25 Central Ohio liquor stores. Gin will retail for $27.90, vodka for $24.60.

The short production time for clear spirits like vodka and gin helps a young company to get stuff on the shelves and make a profit. The quick turnaround also allowed Watershed to fine-tune recipes, master sophisticated machinery and hone new flavors.

And gin is a liquor in need of fresh ideas, Lehman said.

"If you look on the shelf, it's the same guys that have been around forever," he explained. "We did a lot of research on gin, and we tried lots of combinations. Nobody out there has our balance and blend."

Produced much like flavored vodka, gin starts when a corn-based spirit is combined with special ingredients like juniper berries, citrus peels, allspice, cassia and coriander. This mixture is added to water and run through the still a second time. The resulting spirit is then cut, diluted, filtered and bottled.

The taste and smell of Watershed gin will evoke a subtler, classic style that features citrus notes, a slight spice and soft, fragrant aromas.

Once they've got their product in hand, Lehman and cohorts plan to educate locals about the high-quality hooch produced in their own backyard.

"The idea is to be a Columbus brand," Lehman said. "There are a lot of people to tell about our product."