State of Spirits: What’s new at Minnesota’s distilleries and spirit companies

Isanti Spirits

2016: After one year in business, the distillery brought three spirits to the market—Isanti Rye Whiskey, Tilted Cedars Gin (made with juniper from his own property), and Sunken Bobber Bourbon. They sent their rye barrels to Tin Whiskers for a porter to debut at Winterfest, and to OMNI Brewing as well, and sent their bourbon barrels to Keepsake Cidery. Isanti Spirits is shooting to secure distribution in North Dakota and Wisconsin by the end of the year.

2017: Isanti is working on warehouse expansion—enough to produce 100 barrels a year for the next three years. They’re also hoping to expand their distribution to Illinois. Some experimentation may also be in the future; Isanti talked of a maple or honey whiskey, and a Minnesota brandy made in collaboration with a local winery.

J. Carver Distillery

2016: J. Carver Distillery introduced four new products: Bourbon Whiskey, Steinhager-Style Gin, Hunt Club Double Barrel Rye Whiskey, and Sevilla Liqueur. The major accomplishment of 2016 was adding the final touches to their long-term barreled products strategy. Their first barrel house is now filled to the brim, with construction of a second barrel house nearing completion. By the end of 2016, the Waconia distillery will have filled over 800 barrels with brown spirits, sufficient to supply their anticipated sales through 2020, at the least.

2017: J. Carver’s product expansion is in its final phase as they anticipate five new products (two whiskeys, one brandy, and two whiskey-based liqueurs) in 2017, followed by malted whiskey products and an additional whiskey-based liqueur in 2018.

Lawless Distilling


Lawless Distilling // Photo by Aaron Davidson

2016: In 2016, Lawless Distilling was busy designing, building, and opening their cocktail lounge. They also launched two products: Greenway Gin and Tippling House Vodka.

2017: With a new year comes new projects. Lawless is planning on new spirits, new products, and new collaborations. They’re also planning a new cocktail menu when the snow hits the ground, featuring “crocktails”—cocktails served from the beloved slow cooker, the Crock-Pot.

Loon Liquors

2016: Northfield’s Loon Liquors released their third spirit, Wheaton Barley Vodka, the first microdistilled organic vodka in the state.

2017: As for 2017, they plan on expanding their volume capacity with the purchase of a 200-gallon stripping still.

5 Vodka

2016: 5 Vodka’s biggest accomplishment this year was reaching 300 restaurants and bars across Minnesota.

2017: For 2017, they just want to keep getting bigger and better, focusing on growing their distribution.

Millers & Saints Distillery

2016: Millers & Saints had some celebrations this year, such as their whiskey turning two, and their bourbon and rum turning one. They’ve kept busy by also cranking out their vodka and barreled gin.

2017: The future is unknown at the moment for Millers & Saints. There are thoughts of moving to a new location and maybe opening a cocktail room.

Norseman Distillery

Dark Stormy Craft Cocktail by Kevin Kramer26

Norseman Distillery // Photo by Kevin Kramer, The Growler

2016: Norseman Distillery has been quite productive, with almost 40 different products in various stages of development. This year, they opened the state’s largest cocktail room, which is open six days a week, with three new menu changes to date, coming from a group of the Twin Cities’ most talented bartenders. Recently, they just released their fall menu—half ultra-classics and the other half experimental cocktails.

2017: Norseman wants to keep developing brand new spirits and liqueurs. Not only that, but they want to continue tooling around with different experiences to offer their guests that break the mold of what a distillery is, such as their Dinner Series. Expect some wild experimentation from Norseman.

Panther Distillery

2016: Panther Distillery had lots going on this year, including the addition of its third large aging warehouse, filling their 3,500th barrel of spirits, and hosting their fifth annual Moonshine Madness festival, which included a live professional bull riding event.

2017: Their Minnesota 14 Whiskey and Pike Street Bourbon will both turn four years old. They plan on releasing their Minnesota Maple and Minnesota Honey.

Skaalvenn Distillery

2016: After more than doubling production from last year, Skaalvenn has put plans for a cocktail room on hold, instead putting its energy into releasing two new spirits: an aquavit and a habanero rum.

2017: Skaalvenn is planning to move its operations to a new building after its current lease is up in around a year. They have eyes on the northwest suburbs, but are open to any area with a building that can accommodate the distillery’s growth and plans for a cocktail room that will “provide a refreshingly new take” on the concept, says Skaalvenn co-owner Tyson Schnitkter.

Tattersall Distilling


Tattersall Distilling // Photo by Aaron Davidson

2016: Tattersall has added several new spirits/cordials to their lineup, including a blackstrap rum, vermouths, absinthe, cranberry liqueur, and a blueberry liqueur. They’ve laid several spirits in barrels for release in the coming years. They’re getting ready to debut a pommeau made in collaboration with Sociable Cider Werks, and other collaborations with Surly and Indeed. Tattersall expanded to South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Nebraska this fall. And to help craft more spirits, they added a 500-gallon still to their production facility.

2017: More collaboration spirits are on the horizon, with a 2017–18 release. These collabs include distilled versions of Fulton Matrise and Bauhaus Stargrazer. Whiskeys, including a straight rye, rye-heavy bourbon, and wheated bourbon won’t hit stores until 2018–20.

Vikre Distillery

2016: This year, Duluth’s distillery released their second and third batches of Sugarbush Whiskey. Whiskey was also on their minds as they are to debut their Northern Courage Smokey Rye this November. At their distillery, Vikre installed a water recirculation system to reuse their process water, resulting in a 70% reduction in water use. Vikre won USA Today’s “10Best” readers poll in the speciality spirits category, developed a partnership with The Food Farm and Yker Acres, and expanded their distribution into Illinois.

2017: More plans are in the works for Vikre, as they plan to release some single malt whiskey in late winter/early spring. Additionally, Vikre is in negotiations with distributors about expanding into a few more states, and has plans to change the cocktail room menu and host more events.

Wander North Distillery

2016: Wander North introduced a new line of whiskeys using beers made by Northeast Minneapolis breweries. The Uncharted series kicked off in July with a whiskey made from NorthGate’s Get Together IPA, and was followed up in October with a whiskey using 612Brew’s Unrated IPA. The third whiskey, made from NorthGate’s Wall’s End Brown Ale, will be released in December. Additionally this year, Wander North put bourbon into barrels.

2017: Five more Uncharted whiskeys are planned for next year, made in collaboration with Modist Brewing, North Loop BrewCo, NorthGate Brewing, and 56 Brewing. Wander North Distillery will also be releasing a barrel-aged gin, as well as a rum.

Next page: Spirits companies to open

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