December 10, 2018| By Ehren Wynder |

A local distillery and a coffee roaster have teamed up to produce an Italian liqueur.

Grand Rapids-based Long Road Distillers will release Amaro Pazzo tomorrow at a special release party from 4 p.m. to midnight at the distillery, at 537 Leonard St. NW.

Statewide distribution will follow the in-house release, and the liqueur will be available year-round.

Amaro Pazzo was created in collaboration with Madcap and utilizes Madcap’s Reko coffee as one of the primary ingredients.

The release party will feature half-off the new liqueur and coffee cocktails made with Amaro Pazzo and Madcap coffee.

“Few put as much time and dedication into their craft as Madcap,” said Jon O’Connor, co-founder and co-owner, Long Road Distillers. “Amaro Pazzo is an ode to our shared commitment to take the time to do things right and to craft the exceptional. We can’t wait to introduce people to what we’ve been able to create together.”

Amaro is a traditional Italian herbal liqueur, commonly enjoyed before or after dinner. It is typically bittersweet in flavor and has some sugar added for balance.

Madcap’s Reko coffee comes from the Kochere region of Ethiopia. After tasting coffee varieties from all over the world, Madcap and Long Road agreed that Reko would impart the most complementary flavors for Amaro Pazzo, most notably citrus, lemongrass and ginger.

“The team at Long Road has a special respect and intention for the ingredients they work with,” said Ryan Knapp, coffee director, Madcap. “Collaborating with our friends at Long Road was a natural fit with our similar philosophy on how we approach ingredients and flavor.”

Long Road Amaro Pazzo, is also made with myrrh, turkey rhubarb, two types of orange, wormwood and a blend of other ingredients.

It is bottled at 57 proof, or 28.5-percent ABV.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Long Road Distillers is releasing a new batch of it’s straight bourbon on Monday.

It’s the second release for the bourbon, which has been aged in oak barrels for more than two years.

To celebrate, you can get half off any drink, including the bourbon, all day December 3 at Long Road.

Statewide distribution will start later in the week.

November 30, 2018| By Ehren Wynder |
A local distillery is rolling out a limited-release spirit.

Grand Rapids-based Long Road Distillers will release batch No. 2 of its Straight Bourbon Whisky on Dec. 3 at the distillery, at 537 Leonard St. NW.

Statewide distribution will follow later in the week.

Long Road’s Straight Bourbon Whisky was one of the earliest products the company distilled.

Straight whiskey, by definition, must be aged at least two years in a new American oak barrel that has been charred on the inside.

Long Road’s bourbon is bottled at 93 proof, or 46.5 percent alcohol by volume.

Its mash bill consists of corn and wheat from Heffron Farms in Belding and malted barley grown along the lakeshore and malted locally.

“Good whiskey takes time,” said Jon O’Connor, co-founder and co-owner, Long Road Distillers. “We’ve patiently waited to release our second batch of straight bourbon and have carefully selected barrels from two different mash bills to blend together for a whiskey we’re proud to call our own.”

To celebrate the second iteration of Straight Bourbon Whisky, Long Road will be offering half-off tastes, pours and cocktails of the spirit, as well as the first opportunity to purchase a bottle. Specials will be available from opening at 4 p.m. until close at midnight.

Written by Josh Veal for REVUE West Michigan

Tucked safely between the peninsulas, Beaver Island is a singular place, untethered from time and unburdened by the mainland’s concerns.

When we traveled there with Jon O’Connor and Kyle Van Strien of Long Road Distillers to scout for juniper berries, it felt like entering another world. It’s a place where the cars are purely functional, running just well enough to move you through the heavily wooded, unpaved roads. A place where you wave, to everyone, always.

But most importantly, it’s a place with rich history and an incredible sense of community, which is crucial to Long Road’s MICHIGIN, a spirit made entirely with Michigan ingredients.

“We joke about getting a place on the island because we feel like we go there so often now,” Van Strien said. “We’re still outsiders coming in, but we definitely feel welcomed by the majority of folks we come in contact with. We always have someone we can call.”

That much was clear from our first trip to the market. Van Strien knew practically everyone there, including the owner, and all of them knew others he could contact. Without the island’s residents, MICHIGIN wouldn’t be possible.

Juniper “berries” are the crux of a good gin, and they only grow in the wild. The small blue orbs are actually cones that lend the spirit its strong pine flavor. Theoretically, if you wanted to simply drive around the countryside and start picking, you could do that, but you’d never know whose property you’re on.

On Beaver Island, however, juniper runs rampant and Long Road’s network of contacts makes it easy to figure out who owns what. We drove around looking for thick patches in the confirmed you-won’t-get-shot areas as Van Strien dropped pins on a robust GPS app. The following week, they would return with staff in tow.

The actual act of picking the berries is a far cry from visiting the orchard with your mom — Long Road’s staff gathered hundreds of pounds over the course of 15 hours, split between two days. The entire process is hard work from beginning to end, which Van Strien fully appreciates. He said it’s much easier to make an all-Michigan whiskey or vodka.

Gin also means sourcing other botanicals locally, such as mint. This year, Long Road also added white pine, foraged from Byron Center Farm, which should dry out the finish a bit and bring the pine flavor up front. The new batch is on shelves now.

All that hard work comes through in the finished products. MICHIGIN has won plenty of awards, including Revue’s own Best of the West readers poll. And in a way, getting to spend any time at all on Beaver Island is a reward of its own.

“It’s so beautiful,” Van Strien said. “It’s one of the coolest places you can visit in the state.”

Long Road Distillers


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Long Road Distillers will release Batch No. 3 of their award-winning MICHIGIN® on Monday, November 12 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 in Belding, and juniper harvested by hand on Beaver Island.

“The making of MICHIGIN® has become so much a part of who we are” says Jon O’Connor, co-owner and co-founder of Long Road. “The adventure of crafting this product from scratch is the epitome of what we’re all about at Long Road – creating products that are world-class and doing it the right way, all while using locally sourced ingredients.”

In 2017, MICHIGIN® was named the “Best Gin in the World” and awarded a Double Gold Medal at the Fifty Best Competition in New York City. Ever since, the Michigan-made spirit has been highly sought after and one of the distillery’s most popular products. Each batch is eagerly anticipated not only by visitors of the distillery, but by retailers and bars throughout Michigan.

On Monday, November 12, the distillery is hosting a MICHIGIN® Release Party to celebrate the new batch. 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® Batch No. 3 to take home.

STORY BY CHAZ PARKS | 269 MagazineThe perfect cocktail is a beautiful thing.


It can be a refreshing gin drink on a Michigan summer’s day or a bold bourbon concoction that warms you as winter rolls in. That’s why it may not come as a surprise that craft distilleries across the country grew by nearly 20 percent in 2017, with over 50 of them calling Michigan home. Craft spirits are on the rise, and they are altering the state of cocktails.

“The craft spirits industry has seen tremendous growth over the past couple of years,” says James Loughmiller, Spirits Category Manager at Imperial Beverage. “Michigan alone has been making strides, producing some of the highest quality spirits in the nation. We are usually known as a craft beer state, but recently spirits have started to take hold, and we are seeing a surge of new distillers open throughout the state with a dedication to craft and quality. The craft segment of the spirits category is growing at a rapid pace, and we don’t see it slowing down anytime soon,” Loughmiller confirms.

A shining example of this craft movement comes right from west Michigan. Long Road Distillers has been producing high-end craft spirits since 2015. It is located on Grand Rapids’ west side and has created a stunning home by dedicating their craft to the community that surrounds them. Both co-founders Jon O’Connor and Kyle Van Strien reside on the west side.

“We both have deep roots on the west side of the city, so it was a no-brainer for us to develop this project here. We wanted to give back to the community and make this a shared space with the people that support us. It’s been amazing watching the area thrive over the past three years,” says Van Strien, co-founder of Long Road Distillers.

Southwest Michigan is home to an array of local distillers, from Green Door Distilling in Kalamazoo to Bier Distillery in Comstock Park, and the craft spirits game has exceeded expectations helping to grow the Michigan economy. Operating locally has positively affected the restaurant and retail industry as well as resident farmers who are seeing the boost in their own economic benefits from this new flourishing industry.

Rows of wheat don’t usually come to mind as your bartender makes your Michigan Mule but, when you put quality over everything, it is a must. Utilizing the freshest grain Michigan has to offer, Long Road puts an emphasis on locally sourced agriculture whenever possible. Red winter wheat, for example, is a staple ingredient for the distillery. Long Road utilizes the wheat in several of its products. It is sourced from Heffron Farms in Belding, Michigan, just 25 miles from the distillery.

“It’s in our name. We wanted to make the best locally-sourced product we could with no shortcuts. From our grain to the malt to even the fruit we use for our seasonal limited releases, it all comes from local farms. When we set out to build the distillery, our main objectives were to one, produce world-class, quality spirts that were world-renowned, and two, locally source every ingredient it takes to make those spirits,” Van Strien explains.

Kalamazoo-based Imperial Beverage is fairly new to spirits distribution. Obtaining its ADA (Authorized Distribution Agents) certification in the spring of 2017, its portfolio has grown into a craft-centric powerhouse. Long Road was recently added to that ever-evolving portfolio, making the distiller’s products available statewide for all connoisseurs of locally-sourced spirits in Michigan to enjoy.

“Working with Long Road has been an absolute pleasure,” says Loughmiller. “Its commitment to sourcing ingredients, not spirits, and its dedication to utilize as many local ingredients and farms as possible sets it apart from your everyday distillery. The team there is dedicated, hardworking and goes above and beyond to produce its products. Jon and Kyle have been instrumental in helping our team understand spirits and how to go to market with them. They are truly great partners and friends!”

The results have been worthy of celebration. Long Road has seen early success with the transition to Imperial Beverage, achieving a growth in sales since making the move in spring of this year. The sales team at Imperial works hard to ensure that Long Road products are widely available across the state and is committed to getting their craft into your glass.

Chaz Parks is Donations and Special Events Coordinator at Imperial Beverage, a long-standing member of the Michigan beverage distribution community. Established in 1933 after the repeal of prohibition and purchased by Kalamazoo’s Cekola family in 1984, Imperial has grown from a one county beer distributor to a top 10 statewide beer, wine & spirits wholesaler. With 330 employees and four locations in Kalamazoo, Livonia, Ishpeming, and Traverse City, Imperial provides statewide coverage that serves every Michigan County, every week, all year long.


Long Road Distillers Fall Cocktail Recipe

Make it at home!

2 ounces Long Road Distillers Rye Whisky
0.5 ounces Long Road Distillers Nocino Walnut Liqueur
0.5 ounces Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Bitters


By: eightWest staffPosted: Nov 05, 2018

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Cocktail week is almost here, we’re so excited to try what’s new we’ve invited our friends from Experience Grand Rapids and Long Road Distillers in to tell us more.

Cocktail Week GR 2018
Specialty Cocktails & Events around Grand Rapids
November 7-18


The Cheers! cocktail this week comes with lots of flavor, but none of it from the alcohol in the drink.

“For me, cocktails are all about the interplay of flavor,” said Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings.

Vodka brings nothing to the glass as far as flavor is concerned.

It’s odorless, flavorless, and colorless.

“It’s meant to be very neutral and very smooth,” Tammy noted.

There’s an advantage if you have a drink that already has great flavors: vodka doesn’t interrupt the ingredients as they play off of each other.

This drink is called the Ramona. Tammy found it on the Internet years ago. If you look for it today, you’ll find ingredients with gin, white rum, tequila, and the other non-alcoholic ingredients might include grenadine and mint instead of this recipe. But, for fall, this Ramona is perfect.


5 sage leaves
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 1/2 oz vodka (we used Long Road Distillers vodka)
1 oz apple cider
1/2 oz simple syrup
Garnish: sage leaf

Muddle sage with lemon juice in shaker. Add remaining ingredients to shaker with ice. Shake, strain into cocktail glass. Garnish.

“It’s a fall drink that everyone can appreciate, even if they’re not a cocktail snob like me,” Tammy quipped.

by Connor Hansen Tuesday, October 30th 2018

BOYNE CITY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) — A Grand Rapids based distillery is expanding to northern Michigan.

Long Road Distillers is in the process of opening its first tasting room in Boyne City.

Its other location is its headquarters on the west side of Grand Rapids.

It will share space inside the Outdoor Beerdsman in downtown Boyne City.

There, you’ll be able to taste samples and purchase bottle and merchandise.

“Boyne City just made sense to us,” said Kyle VanStrien, a co-owner of the distillery. “It’s a great four seasons community. It’s a beautiful location, and people have an appreciation for farm to table anything, whether that’s their food or their beverages. So, we wanted to be a part of the community. We want to become great neighbors and a good part of the business community as well.”

Long Road sources all its ingredients locally.

The distillery plans to have its new tasting room open by the end of this year.

By Brian McVicar | | October 25, 2018

Northern Michigan residents will soon have a spot to sample the handcrafted vodkas, gins and whiskeys created by Grand Rapids-based Long Road Distillers.

The distillery plans to open a tasting room in Boyne City by the holiday season, said Kyle VanStrien, Long Road’s co-owner.

“It really helps us make a statement to the community that we want to be members,” he said. “We want to be good neighbors, and we want them to think of us when they are thinking of enjoying some Michigan craft spirits.”

The tasting room will be located at 118 Water Street, in Boyne City’s business district. Shoppers can sample Long Road products such as Michigin, created using botanicals from Michigan, including juniper that’s handpicked on Beaver Island.

Long Road’s products can be found at 1,100 stores and restaurants across the state, including at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Copper Harbor.

But having a tasting room gives the distillery an opportunity to further build its name recognition, VanStrien said, adding that Boyne City is a prime location for doing so because it draws a steady stream of visitors to nearby ski hills, lakes and state parks.

“It’s almost a captive audience for us year-round,” he said. “To be able to tap into that four-seasons market is great.”

The tasting room is geared toward retail sales. There are samples available, but full pours are not permitted.

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