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.”
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