Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Two Birds Artisan Spirits - Greyling Gin

The Greyling - a small, silver-scaled fish popular for its beautiful color and flavor - hasn’t been seen in the Great Lakes since the 1930’s…until recently. Two Birds Artisan Spirits, a new artisanal spirits producer in Southwest Michigan, has returned the Greyling - not as a sporting fish, but as a Modern Dry Gin.

Two Birds Artisan Spirits was founded by Nate Jonjevic and Ryan Bailey to produce premium, small-batch spirits. Currently based in Kalamazoo, Two Birds has modeled themselves after the so-called “Gypsy Brewers” in Copenhagen. These brewers rent space and time on equipment that is not in use and then sell their creations to the public. Many of these brewers have a cult-like following and demand top prices for their limited-production brews.

Two Birds operates under a similar model: They rent space at another small distillery to make their signature Greyling Modern Dry Gin, and then invest their energies in promoting Greyling to bars, liquor stores, restaurants, and in building a strong base of supporters. The hope is to generate enough revenue and interest to build a distillery at a permanent location.

Two Birds sources their grains and botanicals from Michigan and the region. For example, Greyling features a special culinary-grade lavender grown in Northern Michigan that gives Greyling a unique, floral aroma. Two Birds has received critical claim for Greyling, including a stellar review published by thekitchn.com and picked up by the Huffington Post.

Two Birds sells Greyling in Michigan and Missouri. In Michigan, Greyling is currently available in bars, liquor stores and restaurants in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Metro Detroit. In 2013 Two Birds will expand into Lansing and the rest of the state, in addition to the Mid-Atlantic and Chicago markets. If Greyling is not available where you currently reside and you would like to try it, please ask your favorite establishment to carry it for you.

For more information check out the Two Birds website www.twobirdsartisanspirits.com. From there you can join the Facebook community, follow the Twitter feed, or even order a bottle of Greyling online. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ole George Whiskey - Grand Traverse Distillery

Artisan distillation has found a lace in Northern Michigan's Grand Traverse County. Ole George is a 100% straight rye whiskey making it one of the few truly 100% rye whiskeys. Rye whiskey is what Americans drank in the early days of our country, right up until prohibition. With Ole George we are recreating a whiskey that our forefathers enjoyed. Rye has a big bold character and a flavor profile that is unique. Because of this, we do not chill filter our whiskey as our goal was to let the rye be the star.

George, our distiller, is very proud to put his name on this exceptionally smooth rye whiskey. Ole George Whiskey is handcrafted from locally-grown rye, made in small batches and double distilled using our copper pot still. We hope you enjoy this heritage whiskey, neat, or on the rocks.

As a Michigan distiller, using locally-grown grains is a top priority. As such, Grand Traverse Distillery is proud to support Michigan agriculture. The company has purchased more than 850,000 pounds of rye, wheat and corn from local farmers since it began distilling its hand-crafted spirits in 2007, spirits that have won this small distillery several gold medals and much acclaim in the distilling world.

Sample Ole George Whiskey at one of Grand Traverse Distilleries tasting rooms, including: River Place Shops in downtown Frankenmuth, Historic Fishtown in Leland, the Village at Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City and its original distillery and tasting room in Traverse City. For more: www.GrandTraverseDistillery.com.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Northern United Brewing-Civilized Vodka

Northern United Brewing Company launched its first two Civilized Spirits – Vodka and Sakura – to retail accounts throughout the state in late 2011. General Wine & Spirits has added Civilized Spirits to its portfolio and spirit-connoisseurs will now be able to seek out these Michigan-made liquors at retails stores, restaurants and bars around the Great Lakes State.

Previously, Civilized Spirits have only been available at Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin restaurants on Old Mission Peninsula, just north of Traverse City. Additional spirits – rum, whiskey and gin – which are currently available exclusively at Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin, will be released state-wide in the near future.

Civilized Vodka is as smooth as the bay waters at daybreak, subtle as a fleeting wisp of cool summer breeze. Proper manners dictate you put on your good shirt for Civilized Vodka, even though it will always extend you the courtesy of its company, and clean finish. Descended from wine borne of Northern Michigan Riesling vines, this vodka graciously hints at its ingredients with a bouquet of grape and clean finish. And finish it off is what you’ll be tempted to do. Distilled in the ways of the north woods, every bottle of Civilized Vodka has the social graces to complement and enhance the flavors of any cocktail or confidently stand alone. This vodka is as pure as the spring water at its heart and as approachable as the community in which it’s made. (Percent Alcohol: 40 | Proof: 80)

Civilized Spirits are created in a forest hideaway on the Old Mission Peninsula, a site with a long tradition of distillation. Spirits have been made on the site since the late 1800s when it was built by lumber baron J.W. Stickney and his wife, Genevive. Civilized Spirits is a family of liquors created for the woodland gentleman of yore – the sort of man who cut wood for a living and wrestled grizzlies for fun, but still found time to wax his mustache and comb some pomade through his hair. Although the grizzlies may have gone, the legacy of dedication and appreciation of artisanal spirits lives on in every hand-bottled Civilized Spirit.

Master Distiller Mike Hall is the big gun on Old Mission Peninsula. A native of Nova Scotia, he is ultimately responsible for the sublime list of artisanal Civilized Spirits. A world-renowned distiller, brewer, designer and educator, Hall has trained more than 100 brewers and distillers during his career and has also designed, built and installed over 60 breweries and distilleries around from as far way as Siberia to the Bahamas, as well as several here in Michigan.

Civilized Spirits are produced through the grand collaboration between Hall and brewer/distiller Ron Jeffries, handcrafted from the fruit of the Northern Michigan landscape. Grapes are picked from vineyards on the property, as well as from throughout Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas; cherries are harvested from the Old Mission Peninsula, while sugar beets are grown in the fertile soils downstate in Eastern Michigan near Saginaw/Bay City. Locally-grown ingredients such as these enable Hall to distill remarkable vodka, sakura, whiskey, gin and rum, with unique character, smoothness and flavor.

“Jon and I grew up on the Old Mission Peninsula,” recalls Greg Lobdell, who – along with Jon Carlson, Ron Jeffries and Mike Hall, are the managing partners of Northern United Brewing Company, in Traverse City – the parent company for Civilized Spirits. “As children, we used to pick buckets of cherries and set up a stand downtown on Front Street and sell them during the Cherry Festival parade. I remember picking cherries for two days and then working all day selling them at the parade. I think we brought home $12 for the three days work and we were the happiest kids in the world. It is only fitting that we are now distilling cherries from the same trees on Old Mission Peninsula, making Sakura, and distributing it throughout the state.”

Civilized Spirits Website
Civilized Spirits Facebook
Civilized Spirits Twitter

Northern United Brewing Company Website
Northern United Brewing Company Facebook

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Holland Artisan Spirits: Knickerbocker Gin

New Holland Artisan Spirits began in 2005, although for the first three years, spirits were only sold in their pub, located downtown Holland, MI. In late 2009, New Holland Brewing began a launch into distribution with 6,000 square feet dedicated to barrel storage, bottling, and warehousing in their North Side Holland location added in the fall of 2011.

Knickerbocker Gin was one of the first to be distributed. Brett VanderKamp, President and Partner of New Holland Brewing Co., developed the recipe which is a refreshing and vibrant gin intended to be brighter and less dry than a typical London Dry gin. Knickerbocker is made by steeping over a dozen botanicals for a week in 100 proof spirit, prior to redistilling, filtering, and bottling. The botanicals included in Knickerbocker Gin are a blend of juniper berry, coriander, angelica root, orange zest, lemon zest, cinnamon, ginger, orris, cardmon, fennel, clove and nutmeg. All of these together produce a flavorful taste before a clean, dry finish.

"The name Knickerbocker is the historical nickname for Dutch immigrants arriving to the New World," said Beervangelist and Partner Fred Bueltmann, "The Dutch are accredited with the invention of gin, and we appreciate celebrating our community's heritage as well as the adventurous spirit of those early explorers."

This gin has been extremely popular in Michigan as well as throughout the country. Bueltmann says, "we continue to applaud Knickerbocker for 'bringing people back to gin.' I believe it's because it's bright and flavorful while not drying to your palate." He also speaks of the versatility Knickerbocker has, "It's delicious neat, on the rocks or in a cocktail and composed without being heavy handed, which we believe is demonstrating how enjoyable gin can be."

Knickerbocker Gin is a part of the New Holland Artisan Spirits line which also produces Hatter Royale Hopquila, Zeppelin Bend Whiskey, Brewers' Whiskey, Dutchess Vodka, along with a series of Freshwater Rums. NHAS shipped over 9.000 proof gallons of spirits in 2011 and is on track for considerable growth for 2012 and beyond. The spirits are currently distributed in six states (MI, IL, WI, MO, IN, DC) with more on-deck. Also, coming this summer New Holland Brewing hopes to pour a barrel-aged version of Knickerbocker gin in it's pub located at 66 East 8th Street, Holland, MI."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Valentine Vodka Releases White Blossom

Spring is a season of awakenings in Michigan – where April showers bring May flowers and May flowers are infused into dazzling artisan spirits like the new White Blossom from Valentine Vodka.

“I like to push the envelope and I always look for unique ingredients and flavors to work with, specifically those from Michigan,” says Rifino Valentine, micro-distiller and owner of Valentine Vodka in Ferndale.

“I actually discovered the elderflower flavor while traveling through Europe. There, it’s often used as an herbal remedy to boost the immune system – it’s one of those natural products that mass-produced vodka distilleries are too afraid to touch.”

Elderflower, with its floral nose and beautiful, unique flavor, was the perfect fit. Also called “sambucus nigra” elderflowers are in season from the end of May to the beginning of June, alongside many other spring blooms like dogwood, or cherry and apple blossoms.

The leaves of the Elderberry plant are feather-like, with 5–9 leaflets and large clusters of small white or cream-colored flowers that bloom in the late spring. The flower heads, which are commonly used in infusions because of their fragrant aroma and distinct flavor, are best collected and used fresh, when the tiny buds have just opened and come to bloom.

“To craft this exquisitely unique flavor, I start with my handcrafted Double Gold Medal-winning vodka,” Rifino says. Valentine Vodka is made of a proprietary blend of red Michigan wheat, two-row malted barley and corn, which all comes directly from Michigan famers and suppliers. “Then, I carefully blend natural elderflower blossoms, with a touch of grapefruit and 100 percent Michigan beet sugar, as a delicate sweetener.”

While most won’t be familiar with the sweet, floral flavors of White Blossom, Rifino says “once they try it, they will be hooked.”

“What a breath of fresh air in the artificial, overdone world of flavored vodka,” says Jim Schramm, Manager & MaĆ®•tre d' of Tre Cugini in Grand Rapids. “White Blossom screams different and made-from- scratch, just like the rest of the Valentine brand.”

The nose of White Blossom is simple and refreshing, like a bouquet of wildflowers picked on a warm spring Michigan afternoon. While the elderflower scent is predominant, there are hints of citrus rolled in sweet, velvety honey that finishes soft and clean. It’s perfectly delightful served on the rocks, or with a splash of natural juices or mixers for a variety of Michigan-themed infusions and signature cocktails

White Blossom is currently available exclusively at Valentine Vodka’s Ferndale cocktail bar and will hit retail shelves in the spring of 2012. The original Valentine Vodka – which hit the market in 2009 – can now be found in more than 900 outlets throughout Michigan and Illinois.


Reprinted from the Spring 2012 issue of Michigan HOME & Lifestyle Magazine. Pick up a copy on newstands now, for a selection of White Blossom recipes.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Three Oaks' Journeyman Distillery Launches Bilberry Black Hearts Gin

Everything about Journeyman Distillery is handcrafted, and we like that our home reflects that attention to labor. The original maple factory floors are from the 1800′s. We have an original concrete bar made in Grand Rapids, with coordinates etched into the side—to mark this historic and unique location. We’re using wood from the family barn in central Indiana; wood that was once the flooring for an early 1900s schoolhouse. We feel that EK Warren, the original builder of the factory—while being a staunch prohibitionist—would be proud to see his building shining bright. Our bottles are like our building: steeped in family history that we’re thrilled to share with you.

The decision to have a organic distillery was largely a personal one and a decision that came rather easily. Several years ago Bill decided to make a more conscious decision about what he was consuming and where was his food coming from. In an effort to support local organic farmers our Distillery will be buying organic grain that is grown by family farmers in the great Midwest. The concept is to support the idea of eating with a sense of place. Whether it’s local sprits produced by Journeyman, hand crafted cheeses, or local organic Michigan fruits, Journeyman believes organic demonstrates a respect for the land and its people.

When drinking Journeyman Distillery products your consuming an organic product that we believe tastes better because it is organic. Your assisting family farms of all sizes, you’re supporting a global organic economy and you’re helping to reduce the toxic load of chemicals in the air, water, soil, and bodies.

Journeyman Distillery is certified organic by Midwest Organic Services Association. MOSA is a non-profit organic certification agency, rooted in the Midwest. Journeyman Distillery uses organic grain that is produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers, artificial pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, growth hormones, feed additives, or genetically modified organisms (GMO’s).

With aged Rye, Bourbon, and Wheat whiskey on the not to distant horizon, Journeyman Distillery releases its Bilberry Black Hearts Gin to great acclaim.

Indigenous to Britain and northern Europe, the Bilberry highlights our juniper and eight other botanical’s found in our gin. A cousin to the huckleberry and blueberry the bilberry is smaller and of fuller taste and is extremely hard to grow, thus seldom cultivated. The fruit is mostly collected from wild plants growing on public lands. It is an everyman’s right to collect bilberries irrespective of land ownership. The bilberry is dark in color and usually appears black, thus the berry was commonly refereed to as a black heart in 19th century south-western England. I hope that this truly unique berry and its flavors of tart fig, pepper, and black licorice rest well on your pallet.

Product Information: At 90 proof our gin botanical’s are macerated in a 100% Organic wheat base spirit and then distilled. The definition of small batch, each gin run produces less then 10 gallons of distillate. Our gin is clean, bright, and fruity with subtle hints of black licorice. Enjoy!

For more information, visit Journeyman Distilling's website:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ugly Dog Rum

Developed by owner/distiller Jon Dyer compares favorably to Baccardi white, this Michigan made rum is distilled in small patches from 100% Florida grown sugar cane. It is found at select retail accounts around Michigan.

Founded in 2009, Ugly Dog opened for business in May, 2010 in Chelsea, MI. The mission of the company is to provide high quality products at mid-range prices. Ugly Dog is committed to supporting Michigan and U.S. economies through the use of domestically-produced goods.

Named for the German Wirehaired Pointer, Ugly Dog Distillery produces premium quality Vodka and Rum in small batches, using the techniques of early moonshiners. In business since May 2010, its customer base and product line is constantly expanding.

For more information: http://uglydogvodka.com and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ugly-Dog-Distillery-LLC/120600767961320