Whiskey aficionados can raise their glasses to a new release of a Minnesota-made whiskey. Duluth’s Vikre Distillery is releasing Lot 3 of their Sugarbush Whiskey today, Friday, September 9.
This is the third time the distillery has released Sugarbush; the first lot was released November 2015, while the second was made available in April 2016. And even though each version of the spirit was made with the same basic elements and process, Lot 3 has characteristics all its own.
“Each lot is different because of the individual differences in how we make the cuts in distilling that batch, and also the conditions of the barrel room at any given time,” explained co-founder and president of Vikre Distillery, Emily Vikre. “However, this lot has also aged for longer. I find it smoother, a bit more balanced with less maple character and more butterscotch, bright red berries, and rye character.”
To create the basic flavor profile in all of their Sugarbush whiskeys, each lot undergoes a three-part aging process.
According to Vikre, the whiskey, primarily corn-based, first ages in port casks for six months. During that time, maple staves are immersed for roughly a month, after which the whiskey is transferred to used bourbon barrels that once held local maple syrup. There the whiskey continues to age until the distillers decide it is time for a new release.
And for Lot 3, the time is now. Today, September 9, Vikre will open at 2pm for people to purchase bottles and try the whiskey straight or in drinks in their cocktail room (see the Instagram photo below for more release party details). While Sugarbush Whiskey – Lot 3 will be sold at their distillery, the spirit can also be purchased—in 375-milliliter and 750-milliliter bottles—at select retailers, which will be posted on the distillery’s social media when that information is available.
But the life of Sugarbush Whiskey barrels doesn’t end there. While Lot 3 was aging in Duluth, Dangerous Man Brewing was using Vikre’s Lot 2 Sugarbush barrels at the brewery in Minneapolis to age a new barleywine.
“They [Dangerous Man] had the idea themselves, and asked for our barrels,” said Vikre. Sarah Bonvallet, co-founder and creative director of Dangerous Man, added that “we received the barrels, and then had to think creatively of what type of beer would pair well with the characteristics of the Sugarbush.”
Working through the barrel supplier Duluth Barrel Works, Vikre and Duluth Barrel Works sold and personally delivered the Sugarbush barrels to Dangerous Man, who then honed in on their own craft creation. This January, the 10.2% ABV barleywine will be available on tap at Dangerous Man.
“It’s a very round beer,” said Bonvallet. “It’s very warming, without the harsh, alcoholic piece that barleywine typically has. The beer picks up the whiskey notes, with a subtle caramel, rich toffee flavor.”
The Minnesota spirit to Minnesota beer storyline is one that we’ll see more of in the coming years, according to Bonvallet.
“You see a lot of collaborations between breweries and beer communities, but with distilleries taking off, I think this is just the beginning of the connection between these two entities,” she said. “It’s truly a match made in heaven. We’re different, but we have the same heart and passion. We want to produce locally-made products. And it was just fun to do. Two cities in the same state working together—how cool is that?”
What if we told you there would be Manhattans? Join us for the Sugarbush Whiskey – Lot 3 release party on 9/9/16 from 2-11 pm. To help you pass the time, we put a link in our bio you can click to help us win Best Craft Spirits Distillery from USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. ???? Vote once per day, per device. No registration, no hoops. Thanks, pals. #votevikre #manhattan #duluth #vikredistillery #10best #craftspirits #minnesota #madeinmn #cocktails