Du Nord Spirits' first product, L'étoile vodka, hits the shelves

First there were local micro-brews, then the Twin Cities craft cocktail boom, and now the latest on the scene is a Minneapolis-made vodka. Du Nord, Minneapolis's first "micro-distillery" rolled out its first firewater Friday. L'étoile Vodka ($24), made from Minnesota sugar beets and corn, hit metro shelves following bottle signings and samplings at several locations led by owners Shanelle and Chris Montana. 

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Milling, mashing, distilling, and bottling at their South Minneapolis still with ingredients from Cold Spring to Red Wing, the Montanas pride themselves on all-local everything including their business and product names. The craft-spirit company pays homage to the French voyageurs who started small-batch brewing before Minnesota even entered statehood. Du Nord means the North, and L'étoile, French for "star," is a nod to our North Star State. 

The vodka is crisp and sweet, pairing well with the spicy flavors of a bloody mary, or the subtle mellow notes of an Arnold Palmer with mint. "It's smooth enough that we've been challenging folks at the samplings to drink it neat," says co-owner Shanelle. "They're pleasantly surprised that it doesn't burn at all and rolls over the palate." 

The plans for this tiny "grain-to-glass" business are big. Slated for a July release is their "Fitzgerald Gin," just in time for mid-summer G&Ts, followed by a Minnesota apple whiskey, and eventually a bourbon. The husband-and-wife team are counting on pending legislation to open a sample room adjoining the distillery at some point in the near future.

L'étoile vodka is available for purchase at Zipp's, Surdyk's, and many other locations around the Twin Cities.

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