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The 14 open and opening Minnesota micro-distilleries to look out for

The raw ingredients.
The raw ingredients.
Benjamin Carter Grimes for City Pages

While microbreweries have boomed in Minnesota, entrepreneurs and drinkers state-wide have been slower to get into another craft craze: spirits. Now, thanks to a 2011 law change and a host of passionate micro-distillers, Minnesota is about to catch up.

Our cover story this week looks at what to expect from the upcoming crop of local spirits. Here's your roundup of where, and when, to find them.

See also:
COVER: Local Spirits: Meet the micro-distillers who are making craft liquor the Twin Cities' new industry

Open and producing

Scott Ervin of Norseman examines his wash -- the fermented liquid that goes into the still.
Scott Ervin of Norseman examines his wash -- the fermented liquid that goes into the still.
Benjamin Carter Grimes for City Pages

1. Norseman Distillery
Who: Scott Ervin

What: Norseman Vodka, and later, gin, whiskey, and rum.

Where: Based out of northeast Minneapolis, Norseman Vodka is in liquor stores around the Twin Cities, including Surdyk's, Lowry Hill Liquor, South Lyndale Liquors, Lake Wine and Cheese, France 44, North Loop Wine and Spirits, Zipp's Liquor, and Lunds and Byerly's locations.

When: Norseman Vodka is on shelves, if you can find it before the latest batch sells out. Norseman Gin is almost ready.

Why: As Ervin explains, "The stuff we shipped out last night is vodka that I started on Wednesday. It's the freshest stuff on the shelf."

2. Panther
Who: Adrian Panther and Brett Grinager

What: White Water Whiskey, Spiked Apple Spirits, and Bad Medicine Gin. Later, aged whiskey and bourbon.

Where: Based out of Osakis, Panther spirits are in bars and liquor stores around the state, including Twin Cities destinations like two Pizza Luces, the 331 Club, South Lyndale Liquors, and Zipp's Liquors.

When: While un-aged whiskey, apple-infused whiskey, and gin are already on shelves, look for aged whiskey, bourbon, and single barrel bourbon in spring 2014.

Why: Panther is the state's first legal micro-distillery, and all about the whiskey.

3. Far North Spirits
Who: Michael Swanson and Cheri Reese

What: Solveig Gin, and later, Alander Spiced Rum and Roknar Rye Whiskey.

Where: The northernmost distillery in the continental United States, Far North Spirits is based all the way up in Hallock. Find their gin at Twin Cities liquor stores Elevated, France 44, Lake Wine and Spirits, South Lyndale Liquors, North Loop Wine and Spirits, Zipp's, Solo Vino, and Thomas Liquors, and at restaurants like the Bachelor Farmer, Borough, Nightingale, and the Strip Club.

When: Gin is out. Look for spiced rum in March, and rye whiskey in December 2014.

Why: Swanson and Reese don't just source grains -- they farm them themselves, hand-selecting seed varieties and using only non-GMO grains.

4. Vikre Distillery
Who: Joel and Emily Vikre

What: Boreal Gin and Ovrevann Aquavit. Later, Gunflint Bourbon, Temperance River Rye, and Iron Range American Single Malt.

Where: Vikre is based out of downtown Duluth, in Canal Park.

When: Look for gin by February 1, and aquavit later that month.

5. Loon Liquors
Who: Simeon Rossi and Mark Schiller

What: Loonshine, a white whiskey, and later, MetropoliGin.

Where: Northfield.

When: Look for Loonshine within a month, and gin by spring.

Why: Loon Liquors is USDA certified organic.

Opening up in Minneapolis and St. Paul

Chris and Shanelle Montana of Du Nord Craft Spirits.
Chris and Shanelle Montana of Du Nord Craft Spirits.
Benjamin Carter Grimes for City Pages

6. Du Nord Craft Spirits
Who: Shanelle and Chris Montana

What: L'etoile Vodka, Fitzgerald Gin, Appleseed Whiskey, Longfellow Bourbon.

Where: Du Nord is based out of an old motorcycle shop in south Minneapolis, about a block from Harriet Brewing.

When: Look for the vodka in March or April, and gin by late summer, early fall. Bourbon will be done aging in 2017.
 
Why: Du Nord's grain to glass approach is, Chris explains, "not the cheapest way to do it, and it's not the easiest way to do. It's actually in fact the hardest way to do it." So why do it? "You get the most control over your product," says Shanelle.

 

7. 11 Wells

Who: Lee Egbert and Bob McManus

What:  11 Wells will start with rum, gin, and Minnesota 13 whiskey. After that? Egbert and McManus have big plans. "We may even do an absinthe or a vermouth," Egbert says.

Where: 11 Wells is based out of, and gets its name from, the old Hamm's Brewery complex on St. Paul's east side.

When: Look for spirits on shelves by April.

8. Wander North
Who: Brian Winter

What: Wander North will start off with vodka, and later, likely gin and whiskey.

Where: Winter is based out of northeast Minneapolis, just down the road from Norseman Distillery.

When:  Look out for Wander North vodka by summer.

Why: "Do I know that I'm going to be able to make the greatest vodka ever?" says Winter. "I don't know for sure. But I think that it's going to be pretty darn good."

The 14 open and opening Minnesota micro-distilleries to look out for
Benjamin Carter Grimes for City Pages

Benjamin Carter Grimes for City Pages

9. Lost Falls Distillery

Who:   Nils C. Collins and Brian Nackerud

What:  Lost Falls plans to get creative, and use local fruits and botanicals to create spirits like a black cherry rum.

Where:  Collins and Nackerud are seeking a location in south Minneapolis.

When:  Coming soon.

10. Millers and Saints Distillery
Who: Joe Muggli, Ron Olney, Jason Schoneman

What: Vodka and later, whiskey and bourbon.

Where: St. Louis Park, just west of Bass Lake Park.

When: The still is installed, and Millers and Saints will soon be operational.

Why: Millers and Saints is working with Steel Toe Brewing to create their wash.

11. Gentleman Scholar Distillery
Who:
Jon Bohlinger and Jesse Griffin

What: Gins and vodka.

Where: Twin Cities.

Opening up in Minnesota

Juniper berries for gin.
Juniper berries for gin.
Benjamin Carter Grimes for City Pages

12. Bent Brewstillery
Who: Bartley Blume

What: UnPure malt whiskey first up, with more to come. Think rye whiskey and bourbon.

Where: Roseville.

When: Production starting up soon.

Why: Blume will be brewing beer and distilling spirits, and has also merged with Pour Decisions Brewing Co.

13. Isanti Spirits
Who: Rick and Nikki Schneider, and Marc Dickhut

What: Gin and rye whiskey, and later, a bourbon. Rick was planning to produce only aged spirits, until he realized that the 36 trees lining his property were 50-year-old red cedars, laden with juniper berries. Now, Isanti Spirits will do a gin too.

Where: Isanti, about 30 minutes from Coon Rapids.

When:  Rick has 15 barrels of rye whiskey aging from when he took a distilling course, and plans to start selling it as soon as Isanti Spirits opens up. "We'll have an aged product the day we open," he says. Look out for it by Fall 2014.

Why: After nearly opening up a distillery in Iowa, the Schneiders moved back to Minnesota when the law changed. "I had always wanted to do this in Minnesota in the first place," Rick says.

14. J. Carver Distillery
What: This distillery has its federal permit, but we're still finding out more.

Where: Waconia

When: Distilling by spring 2014.


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