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gray skies

 

Grand Rapids, Mich – Gray Skies Distillery released their first straight rye whiskey November 7 and will follow shortly with a limited-edition release of their Breakfast Bourbon on November 20. Both spirits will be available for purchase in their tasting room and through licensed retailers, bars and restaurants around Michigan via statewide distribution. Michigan Straight Rye Whiskey was aged in charred new, oak barrels for over two years and bottled at 90 proof. Breakfast Bourbon was aged over two years and bottled at 87 proof. Breakfast Bourbon spent time in two different barrels, starting in in charred new, oak barrels before it was finished for 9 months in maple syrup casks. These two whiskeys bring the total number of American whiskeys Gray Skies Distillery offers up to five: Michigan Straight Rye Whiskey, Breakfast Bourbon, Breakfast Rye, Single Malt Whiskey and Michigan Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Each Gray Skies Distillery whiskey is painstakingly made from grain in 500-gallon batches. Gray Skies proudly uses an inefficient pot still for its whiskeys to maintain maximum flavor at the expense of productivity. Each whiskey is double distilled before resting in barrels on-site for years. With five premium American whiskeys available and a growing, aging whiskey stock Gray Skies Distillery continues to define Michigan craft whiskey.

“Michigan Straight Rye Whiskey is a perfect complement to the coming cold weather. It’s the ultimate cocktail whiskey with a strong rye backbone that stands up to other ingredients” said Steve Vander Pol, co-owner of Gray Skies Distillery. “Because this is a straight whiskey, no additional flavors were added. My tasting notes include figs, chocolate, black pepper and cinnamon. This flavor profile was created using only grain, water, yeast and time in oak barrels.”

“Breakfast Bourbon offers a playful twist on a typical bourbon whiskey. Unlike our rye, this is not a straight spirit. We infused maple flavor into the whiskey by taking a traditional bourbon and finishing it for 9 months in a barrel that was previously used to age maple syrup,” Vander Pol continued. “The maple finish amplifies the sweetness inherent in bourbon whiskey and imparts a creamy mouthfeel to the viscous finished spirit. These whiskey releases expand our craft whiskey offerings to five distinct spirits, highlighting what a small batch distillery can do.”

Gray Skies Distillery was named Michigan Distillery of The Year in 2016 at the 7th annual New York International Spirits Competition on the strength of its gold medal winning Barrel Finished Gin. The Gray Skies Distillery line up of spirits are currently available in hundreds of licensed retailers, bars and restaurants around Michigan. Distribution is currently limited to Michigan, but the distillery hopes to expand into additional states with future whiskey releases.

 

About Gray Skies Distillery:

Grain to glass, locally made in Grand Rapids.

At Gray Skies Distillery, we don’t try to be everything to everyone. Instead, we focus our attention on our process, flavors, environment and those looking for the unexpected. We take pride in introducing traditional spirits – like gin, whiskey and rum – with a surprising flavor twist, making them unique to Gray Skies Distillery. Our small-batch process is married with traditional methods to create a spirit that is innovative and exceptional in quality. We are committed to working with local businesses whenever possible to craft our flavor-forward spirits. From local malted barley to repurposing Michigan maple syrup barrels, our innovative ingredients push the limits on what good spirits truly embody.

 

long road

 

New distillery Tasting Room to open in the heart of Downtown Boyne City retail district

Grand Rapids, Mich – Grand Rapids-based Long Road Distillers announced on Wednesday that they will be opening a new distillery tasting room in Boyne City, Michigan. The northern Michigan outlet will be the company’s first offsite tasting room apart from their headquarters on the West Side of Grand Rapids where they house their production facility, cocktail bar and restaurant. Visitors to the new Boyne City location will be able to sample Long Road’s line-up of handcrafted spirits, participate in special tasting events, and purchase merchandise and bottles to-go.

“The Long Road team is thrilled to join the Boyne City community,” said Kyle VanStrien, Long Road Distillers Co-Founder and Co-Owner. “It’s a beautiful town with a thriving retail district, engaged business community, and countless activities for residents and visitors to enjoy throughout the year.”

The Long Road Tasting Room will be located at 118 Water Street in the heart of the Central Business District in Downtown Boyne City. It will share a storefront with The Outdoor Beerdsman, a befitting partnership considering the handcrafted nature of the retailer who designs and prints their own apparel, and creates custom jewelry, all in-house.

“We’re excited to have Long Road Distillers join our downtown business community,” said Ashley Cousens, Executive Director of the Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce. “We think they’ll be a great compliment to the many options we have for residents and visitors to enjoy – our retail shops, brewpubs, restaurants, wineries and bars. This will add another unique attraction and a line of handcrafted products that help highlight the agricultural bounty of Michigan.”

Northern Michigan has become a vital part of the Long Road story and holds a special place in the hearts of VanStrien and fellow Co-Owner and Co-Founder Jon O’Connor.

“We are committed to using Michigan-grown ingredients in our spirits whenever possible,” said O’Connor. “MICHIGIN, our 100% Michigan ingredient gin, depends on ingredients grown in Northern Michigan. Our team spends several days each fall harvesting juniper on nearby Beaver Island, and we’ve incorporated galena hops from the Michigan Hop Alliance in Northport to add a citrus component to the gin’s botanical makeup.”

“As we’ve done in West Michigan, we’re excited to build partnerships with Boyne area farmers to develop new products that highlight the unique terroir of the region,” adds O’Connor.

While an official open date has not been announced, Long Road Distillers is actively seeking applicants for a Tasting Room Manager and Retail Associate team members.

To learn more about employment opportunities or to stay up to date on the Long Road – Boyne City location, visit fb.me/LongRoadBoyneCity.

 

 

fermenta

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Fermenta: Michigan Women’s Craft Collective, is co-hosting a spirits event at New Holland Brewing‘s The Knickerbocker Sunday, April 22 from 2-4pm.

For this “Shaking & Sipping” hands-on event, attendees will learn how to properly taste gin, rum, and bourbon while also making historically significant cocktails with each base spirit.

The event is open to the public, welcoming both Fermenta members and non-members to participate and partake. Ticket price includes samples of each liquor, three cocktails attendees will prepare and a light snack.

Limited tickets are available for purchase here: https://shakeandsip.eventbrite.com

Prices are $25 for non-members and $20 for members.

With each event Fermenta hosts, the non-profit raises money towards their scholarship fund to further women’s education in the craft beverage industry. This allows members to apply for and attend workshops, classes, and seminars around the state.

 

About
Fermenta is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit trade group initiated by Michigan women, committed to diversity, camaraderie, networking, and education within the craft beverage industry. The organization hosts events with an educational focus and networking opportunities and provides a network that encourages conversation about the importance of diversifying the craft alcohol industry, ways to foster progress, and provide opportunities for a variety of voices and visions

 

cocktail week gr

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich – Get ready to toast the return of Cocktail Week GR, November 8-19, celebrating Michigan craft spirits. The third annual event is hosted by Experience Grand Rapids and will highlight local distillers, specialized Cocktail Week GR Menus, and feature events organized by the U.S. Bartending Guild (USBG) – Grand Rapids chapter.

Throughout the 12-day event, participating local restaurants will offer two Michigan cocktails and an appetizer for $25 or less. Many local distilleries and restaurants will also offer special events and distillery tours, including the USBG Cocktail Contest at Stella’s Lounge and a “Sunday Funday” trolley tour to participating Cocktail Week GR bars.

Cocktail Week GR culminates with the annual Grand Rapids Wine, Beer and Food Festival at DeVos Place Convention Center, November 16-18. The event is the perfect complement to the festival’s Hemingway Hall venue, where craft producers and mixologists will showcase their finest spirits, mixers, garnishes and cocktails.

A full list of Cocktail Week GR events and happenings will be updated regularly at http://www.CocktailWeekGR.com. Participating restaurants and menus will be posted on October 31 with continued updates throughout the event.

Michigin

Grand Rapids, Mich – Grand Rapids-based Long Road Distillers will release Batch No. 2 of their award-winning MICHIGIN® on Wednesday, November 1 when their doors open at 4 pm. The gin was crafted from 100% Michigan ingredients, starting with water fresh from Lake Michigan, red winter wheat from Heffron Farms and juniper harvested by hand on Beaver Island.

In July, MICHIGIN® was named “Best Gin in the World” and awarded a Double Gold Medal at the Fifty Best Competition in New York City. Just a week after the double-blind tasting award was announced, interest and sales spiked, and the gin sold out. The re-release has been eagerly anticipated not only by the distillery but by retailers and bars throughout Michigan.

“We get calls and e-mails on regular basis asking when we’ll have MICHIGIN® back,” says Jon O’Connor, co-owner and co-founder of Long Road. “It’s definitely helped us reach new consumers and new retail and restaurant accounts.”

MICHIGIN’s base spirit is distilled from red winter wheat from nearby Heffron Farms in Belding, Michigan that was milled on site at the distillery on Grand Rapids’ West Side. It is then redistilled with a variety of Michigan botanicals, including Beaver Island juniper, lemon verbena and fennel from Visser Farms in Zeeland, and Galena hops from the Michigan Hop Alliance in Northport. Batch No. 2 includes the addition of mint from Ham Family Farm in Allendale, Michigan. The resulting gin is unlike any other and offers a fresh taste of Michigan from start to finish.

Juniper is commonly sourced through spice purveyors and originates from Europe or the Pacific Northwest. It was a family connection late last year that tipped off the Long Road team to the abundance of the berry on Beaver Island, the largest island in Lake Michigan approximately 30 miles northwest of Charlevoix. Despite the extra work that goes into producing MICHIGIN®, the team insists the resulting gin and the connection to Michigan farmers and Beaver Island make it all worthwhile.

“Picking juniper is a hard job – but there’s no better place to do it that on the Island,” according to Kyle VanStrien, co-owner and co-founder of the distillery. “It’s one of the most beautiful places in Michigan and the residents of the Island have offered a warm welcome each time our team visits!”

MICHIGIN®, initially, has the familiar aroma of fresh pine and juniper berries, but quickly transitions into scents of cucumber, cedar, and tropical fruits. The rich juniper flavors lead the way at first taste and gradually shift to notes of melon, vanilla, and hints of bright citrus and mint. It’s sure to please in a gin cocktail, on the rocks, or all by itself.

On Wednesday, November 1, the distillery is hosting a MICHIGIN® Release Party to celebrate the new spirit. From 4 pm to midnight, guests will be able to enjoy 50% off gin cocktails and have their first opportunity to purchase bottles of Long Road MICHIGIN® to take home.

Long Road MICHIGIN® will also be available in statewide distribution for licensed retailers, bars and restaurants beginning the week of October 30.

 

michigan spirits

Michigan has firmly cemented itself nationwide as a great beer state, and we are all very thankful for that—but what if your adult beverage of choice isn’t beer?

Never fear, friends, you don’t have to go looking outside the state to quench your thirst.-  We’ve got a plethora of craft spirits too, and it’s about time they got their say.

michigan spirits

In the longstanding tradition of all our wonderful beer festivals, events, and educational components headed up by the Michigan Brewers Guild, the Michigan Craft Distillers Association provides an opportunity for a unifying voice for the over 40 distilleries and distilleries in planning. Part of that voice includes events, and the inaugural Michigan Distilled festival allowed 22 of those member distilleries to showcase their spirits.

Held on Friday, September 15th in Grand Rapids at the Fulton Street Farmers Market, Michigan Distilled featured cocktails and/or spirits samples, live music, food vendors, swag, and a chance to learn all about Michigan distilleries all across the Great Lakes State.

$40 dollars got you five 3-ounce batch cocktails (or ¼ ounce straight spirit samples) from any distillery in attendance. A $75 VIP ticket got you the same plus early entry, one free food item, a special handcrafted cocktail from the Grand Rapids Bartenders Guild only available for VIPs, and a swag bag full of goodies, including a commemorative cup.

Totally worth it.

In attendance were some established favorites such as Valentine Distilling and Grand Traverse Distillery, along with some newer and perhaps less well-known distilleries that are absolutely worth seeking out.

Mammoth Distilling, headquartered in Central Lake, offers small batch vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, bourbon, and brandy inspired by the seasons and landscape of Northern Michigan.  Started in 2013 with bottling beginning in 2015, they have grown leaps and bounds since then, and are ready to grow some more.

Chad Munger, Founder of Mammoth Distilling, shared some interesting news for spirit and beer lovers alike. “We are right in the middle of all the interesting Michigan-grown products we use in our distilling, and [we see] a hole in the market for brandies produced locally. Our vision is to create high-end brandy with grapes and other Michigan fruits. Nobody is doing that yet, and we want to stake our claim there long-term,” said Munger.

In the more immediate future, beer will be the focus—with a little twist. “Partly out of necessity and because we are very interested and curious people,” laughs Munger. “Collin Gaudard, the former head brewer at Northport Brewing, is our Regional Tasting Manager and about to become our Assistant Distiller. He’s got a background and real passion for making beer, which he refuses to give up, which we think is great.”

“We want to do what we can to keep our employees employed even though business slows down dramatically in Northern Michigan sometime in February. We believe beer will help keep us keep a strong business going year round and will bring more people to get to our brand. We are trying to tie our beer and our spirits together in a way that is meaningful, so we don’t cannibalize our spirits sales but really truly extend the line in a unique way.”

Another featured distillery that just screams ‘Pure Michigan’ is Iron Fish Distillery, a field-to-glass craft spirit maker founded in 2015 and located just outside of Thompsonville. Farmed directly from their own grains (as much as available), it’s a true working farm dedicated to their small-batch spirits. They are passionate about sourcing locally (from surrounding farms as needed) and holding their products to the highest quality standards possible, using non genetically modified grain, native yeasts, mashing, fermenting, and bottling everything by hand, on their own land.

michigan spirits

Weston Brooks, Tasting Room Manager of Iron Fish Distillery, poured a Wile E. Coyote for us to sample. Featuring their Michigan Woodland Gin, farm-made jalapeno syrup, fresh lime juice, cilantro, and mint, it was crisp with a little heat and a nice finish. The juniper and other native Michigan botanicals in the gin shined through the mild heat of the syrup and accompanied the freshness and aroma of the herbs perfectly. We asked Brooks for his take on the future of craft spirits in Michigan during the early hours of this inaugural event, and he’s pretty sure the outlook is good. “It’s a very exciting time [for craft spirits] in Michigan. Wine was the first to come to its own here, then it was beer, and now it’s the spirits turn to shine… I see a bright future for us and this industry down the road.”

Detroit City Distillery, located in the historic Eastern Market and founded in 2012, roots it’s craft spirits in the grand ol’ history of prohibition. Small batch whiskey, gin, and vodka aim to invoke the history and spirit of 1920s Detroit, with beautifully made art deco inspired labels like the one on their Homegrown Rye, which we sampled. A little spicy with an almost buttery finish and a deep caramel nose, this small batch whiskey invokes not only the spirit of the Eaton County farmers growing the grain, but the old time bootlegger vibe as well—it was produced on a small copper pot still in an old slaughterhouse. Pretty good story and a pretty good whiskey to go with it.

Overall, the inaugural event for the Michigan Craft Distillers Association was a hit. Well attended and well-represented by a wide variety of Michigan distilleries, each with their own unique vibe and style. Be on the lookout for future events and educational features from the Association and discover all the amazing craft beverages Michigan has to offer.

 

Photography: Steph Harding

michigan craft distillers associationTRAVERSE CITY, Mich—The Michigan Craft Distillers Association has announced its inaugural Michigan Distilled festival, featuring craft spirits and cocktails made around the Great Lakes State. The event will be held on Friday, September 15 from 6-10pm, under the pavilion at Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids. Tickets are on sale now at MiDistilled.com.

A VIP Hour (5-6pm) offers guests an enhanced experience with handcrafted cocktails and a chance to meet with local bartenders and mixologists. VIP tickets are $75 each and include five (5) 3-ounce batch cocktails (or ¼-ounce samples of spirits available from each respective distillery), one handcrafted cocktail (available only during the 5-6pm hour) and one food item, along with a swag bag and commemorative logoed cup.

General Admission tickets are $40 and include five (5) 3-ounce batch cocktails or ¼-ounce samples of spirits available from each respective distillery.

Tickets can be purchased online here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/michigan-distilled-tickets-36687658775.

Additional tasting tickets will be available at the festival for $20 (for five (5) 3-ounce samples). Food trucks, specialty food / non-alcoholic beverage vendors and handcrafted items will be available for added costs. The festival will also feature a full line-up of live music (a schedule of which will be released by the end of August).

Attendees must be 21 and valid photo ID is required for entry (no exceptions) and the event will be held, rain or shine. No refunds will be offered for this festival; no pets, weapons, outside alcohol or glass of any kind will be permitted.

The Michigan Craft Distillers Association was formed in 2014 as a non-profit organization charged with marketing the individual member businesses, their products and events, but also help bring a voice for the industry when it comes to legislative issues that affect the overall beverage industry. Currently, the organization represents two dozen craft distilleries with nearly 40 individual locations and tasting rooms around the state.

 

michigan craft distillers associationTRAVERSE CITY, Mich—The Michigan Craft Distillers Association has announced its inaugural Michigan Distilled festival, featuring craft spirits and cocktails made around the Great Lakes State. The event will be held on Friday, September 15 from 6-10pm, under the pavilion at Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids. Tickets are on sale now at MiDistilled.com.
A VIP Hour (5-6pm) offers guests an enhanced experience with handcrafted cocktails and a chance to meet with local bartenders and mixologists. VIP tickets are $75 each and include five (5) 3-ounce batch cocktails (or ¼-ounce samples of spirits available from each respective distillery), one handcrafted cocktail (available only during the 5-6pm hour) and one food item, along with a swag bag and commemorative logoed cup.
General Admission tickets are $40 and include five (5) 3-ounce batch cocktails or ¼-ounce samples of spirits available from each respective distillery.
Tickets can be purchased online here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/michigan-distilled-tickets-36687658775.
Additional tasting tickets will be available at the festival for $20 (for five (5) 3-ounce samples). Food trucks, specialty food / non-alcoholic beverage vendors and handcrafted items will be available for added costs. The festival will also feature a full line-up of live music (a schedule of which will be released by the end of August).
Attendees must be 21 and valid photo ID is required for entry (no exceptions) and the event will be held, rain or shine. No refunds will be offered for this festival; no pets, weapons, outside alcohol or glass of any kind will be permitted.
The Michigan Craft Distillers Association was formed in 2014 as a non-profit organization charged with marketing the individual member businesses, their products and events, but also help bring a voice for the industry when it comes to legislative issues that affect the overall beverage industry. Currently, the organization represents two dozen craft distilleries with nearly 40 individual locations and tasting rooms around the state.