Riding the wave of new micro-distilleries opening after the 2011 Minnesota micro-distillery law, Wander North Distillery opened for business last Wednesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony and launch of their first spirit, Outpost Vodka. Owner Brian Winter cut the ceremonial ribbon with city councilman Kevin Reich. "Being in northeast Minneapolis is fantastic," says Winter. "The synergy and collaboration here is phenomenal."
Made from pure Minnesota corn supplied by Fluegel Elevator in Rosemount, Outpost vodka takes just five days to make from grain to bottle. It's a labor-intensive, truly hand-made process that allows the flavor to show through.
"I've had people say they taste everything from vanilla to cinnamon," says Brian Winter. "As for why it's different than other vodkas? I think going from grain to glass -- fermenting on the grain, as well as putting it through the stripping run on the grain -- allows a bit of the natural sweetness of the corn to carry through."
Future spirits may include a partnership with Sociable Cider Werks to make apple jack, a distilled hard apple cider, as well as other collaborations.
"We'll be coming out with a young whiskey, much like an Irish-style whiskey, barrel aged," says Winter. "Then NorthGate Brewing will get the barrels to reuse in cask conditioning their beer."
There are plans to open an onsite cocktail room with a selection of drinks made with house spirits, similar to a brewery taproom, once all the regulatory kinks get worked out. "From the outside, it looks like we just get to hang out and go around drinking," Winter says. "But what they don't see is me at two o'clock in the morning in a pair of inappropriately short shorts, t-shirt, and knee-high boots, blaring Social Distortion, cleaning floors so we are ready to go to work the next day."
Now that's a sight we'd like to see. Look for Outpost Vodka at retailers across Minnesota.
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