Gin Long Road Distillers

A local craft spirits maker has won the Best Gin honor at a global blind-tasting competition for gin.

The gin by Grand Rapids-based Long Road Distillers won the top honor and a double-gold medal at the recent Fifty Best gin event, which included 17 pre-qualified judges tasting 41 gins.

Holland-based Coppercraft Distillery also took home a silver medal at the global tasting.

Long Road gin

Long Road’s gin starts with a neutral spirit made at 537 Leonard St. NW from locally grown red winter wheat and features an individually distilled six-ingredient botanical blend.

The product was noted as having notes of lemon, lime, cherry, floral, juniper, eucalyptus and more.

“When we started Long Road Distillers, Jon (O’Connor) and I made a promise to ourselves that we would source our ingredients locally, mill, mash, ferment and distill everything on site at our distillery and filter it honestly,” said  Kyle VanStrien, co-owner, Long Road Distillers. “I believe our commitment to sourcing ingredients, rather than spirits, and using time-honored techniques without taking shortcuts is what sets us apart from others in the industry and in competitions like these.”

Ten gins were awarded double-gold medals, and Long Road’s gin was rated atop other brands, such as Hendricks gin and other staples from the Netherlands and the U.K.

The double-gold medal for gin joins three double-gold medals recently awarded to the distillery’s aquavit. The gin has also previously been awarded gold, silver and bronze medals at various spirit competitions.

Long Road Distillers celebrated its first anniversary last weekend.

“This has been a huge year of progress for Long Road,” said Jon O’Connor, co-owner, Long Road Distillers. “Every award won and distribution expansion made motivates our team to stay committed to our mission and values. We look forward to what the future has in store for our distillery.”

Coppercraft gin

Judges noted smell and taste notes such as lemon, honey dew, toffee, pine, smoky and licorice when evaluating Coppercraft gin.

Coppercraft Distillery includes 13 botanicals in its gin.

Full story here.

Aquavit Long Road Distillers

A West Michigan distillery has won its second double gold medal and best of show in an international competition.

Long Road Distillery won double gold for its Long Road Aquavit at the 16th annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition earlier this month. That honor follows on the heels of the double gold best of show Long Road received for aquavit at the Denver International Spirits Competition in March.

“The San Francisco World Spirits Competition is the most influential in the industry and winning a medal here is very meaningful,” said Anthony Dias Blue, competition director, in a press release. “We have the industry’s most respected experts serving as judges, and every entry is blind-tasted under highly focused conditions. There is no better way to discern quality and identify trends.”

Long Road also won silver for Long Road Gin and bronze for Long Road Wheat Vodka at the San Francisco competition.

The awards were based on the evaluation of 1,899 entries by a 39-person panel of judges. Long Road Aquavit was among 200 spirits to receive the double gold designation.

Aquavit is a traditional Scandinavian spirit. Long Road’s aquavit, and other spirits, can be found at the distillery’s tasting room at 537 W. Leonard St. NW and at more than 100 retailers in Michigan.

“At Long Road Distillers we strive to make spirits worthy of people’s admiration while staying committed to our core value of doing things the right way, from start to finish,” said Kyle Van Strien, co-owner at Long Road Distillers. “This second double gold recognition reaffirms what we set out to do all along and gives us the determination to continue our pursuit of making the best spirits in the world in each category we enter, no matter how big or small.”

Pat Evans, Grand Rapids Business Journal, Full article here: http://www.grbj.com/articles/84973

Aquavit Long Road Distillers

A local distillery is on par with a $199 bottle of Dewar’s 1846 Signature Scotch Whiskey.

Long Road

Long Road Distillers in Grand Rapids won Double Gold and Best in Show this month at the Denver International Spirits Competition for its Aquavit, the same honors the Dewar’s scotch took home.

“From the beginning, it was our goal to make the best spirits in the world right here in Grand Rapids,” said Kyle Van Strien, co-owner, Long Road Distillers. “For us to tie for Best in Show with Dewar’s . . . is unbelievable.

“We are happy to see so much growth so quickly and are proud to let the quality of our products speak for themselves through these awards.”

The city’s first distillery also won a silver medal in wheat vodka category, a bronze in the flavored/infused vodka category for its Wendy Peppercorn and a bronze in the dry gin category.

In the wheat vodka category, no gold medals were awarded.

“We have always put an emphasis on doing things the right way,” said Jon O’Connor, co-owner, Long Road Distillers. “We have a ‘no-shortcuts’ policy. . . . Earning these awards makes that commitment to quality worthwhile.”

The spirits were judged on a 100-point scale by 20 judges.

There were 200 applicants in the competition.

Other brands in the competition included Bacardi, Johnnie Walker and Jim Beam.

Coppercraft

Holland’s Coppercraft Distillery won a bronze medal at the competition in the straight gin category and a silver in the white rum category.

Coppercraft’s Straight Bourbon and Cask Strength Bourbon both won bronze in the small batch bourbon, 10 years or younger category.

 

Full story here.

Long Road Distillers

There’s a lot more to Long Road Distillers than just being Grand Rapids’ first distillery.

Kyle Van Strien and Jon O’Connor took an old grocery store on the west side and turned it into a state-of-the-art distillery that, within the first year of operation, is already one of the state’s largest.

As long-term proponents of the city’s west side, Van Strien and O’Connor are expanding on the organic neighborhood revitalization occurring on the corner of Leonard Street and Quarry Avenue with The Mitten Brewing Co. and Two Scotts BBQ.

It helps that the two owners are involved in the community, with Van Strien on the Grand Rapids Planning Commission and O’Connor a newly elected city commissioner – and a Business Journal 40 Under Forty honoree.

The pair are fond of telling their story, highlighting the process of going grain-to-glass with their product, with ingredients sourced from within 30 miles of their Grand Rapids tasting room.

The products are better for it, too. Long Road has already been named Michigan Vodka Distiller of the year, and is helping define what cocktails can be in the Mid-west.

And they know they’re doing in right.

“I’ve tasted it. We know good spirits when we taste them,” Van Strien said. “We went out to find the right equipment you need to make it; we found the guys capable of making it; we’ve put the pieces together to be able to make the best liquid.”

See the full publication for GRBJ’s Newsmakers of the Year here.

 

Long Road Distillers

GRAND RAPIDS — The West Grand neighborhood in Grand Rapids soon will offer residents and visitors the ultimate trifecta when it comes to craft alcoholic beverages.

That’s because a local cidery plans to open a tasting room in the growing neighborhood along West Leonard Street, a development positioned to complement its neighboring businesses: a microbrewery and a craft distillery.

While having locally-made beer, booze and cider available at consecutive addresses may be a boon for craft beverage fans, those developments and others underway in the immediate area signal a renaissance for one of Grand Rapids’ hardscrabble neighborhoods.

That’s a vibe that Jason Lummen, owner of Grand Rapids-based The People’s Cider Co. LLC, wants to tap into as he plans to open the company’s first off-site tasting room. If his plans are approved by the city next month, he hopes to have cider flowing by May at 539 Leonard St. NW, next door to craft distillery Long Road Distillers LLC and two doors down from The Mitten Brewing Company LLC.

Lummen admits that his plan to move into 450 square feet of space is fairly modest in the broader scope of Grand Rapids development, but it’s indicative of a period of growth not just for his nearly four-year-old business, but also for the West Grand neighborhood as a whole.

“It’s not too much of a stretch and it’s responsible for us,” Lummen said of the tasting room. “It allows us to keep the blue-collar ethic of the cider company intact and allows us to do something to get into what’s going on (on West Leonard). We’re just very fortunate to piggyback with (Long Road) and the guys at The Mitten and to have supportive neighbors.”

The move would give People’s Cider more exposure than it has at its current tasting room and production facility at 600 Maryland Ave. NE near Oak Industrial Park in northeast Grand Rapids, Lummen said. The site would offer seven ciders on tap — including one guest tap — and would be open to guests bringing in outside food.
ADDING DENSITY

If approved by the city, Lummen would rent the West Leonard Street space from Long Road’s owners, Kyle VanStrien and Jon O’Connor, who were also drawn to the opportunities presented by the neighborhood revitalization. Indeed, VanStrien and O’Connor plan to “double-down” on that revitalization with a proposed new mixed-use development of their own.

They’re in the early planning stages of converting an abandoned and contaminated gas station property at 555 Leonard St. NW into a two-story or three-story project with potential apartments or offices upstairs and a ground-floor commercial tenant that’s “complementary” to neighboring businesses.

Currently, the Kent County Land Bank Authority is using state funds to clean up the contamination at the 96-foot by 132-foot site. Following the remediation process, an entity controlled by the owners of Long Road plan to acquire the property.

VanStrien said he wants to attract some mixed-use development to the area along the West Leonard corridor similar to what’s developed in neighborhoods like East Hills and along Bridge Street in recent years.

“We need more density and to build up the population so that they can support the businesses,” VanStrien said.

O’Connor agreed.

“We believe in developing in a good urban context,” he said. “We see opportunity in this neighborhood and we are putting our money where our mouth is.”

The West Grand Neighborhood Association welcomes the prospect of adding new housing and other businesses to the area.

Interim Executive Director Annette Vandenberg told MiBiz the neighborhood strives to support developers, provided they attempt to accommodate all income levels and make a push to hire people already living in the West Grand area.

“Anyone who’s willing to create jobs and housing for all income levels, we think that’s a great idea,” said Vandenberg, adding that the neighborhood association board is in the process of drafting a letter of support for the proposed People’s Cider tasting room.

She added that the board is aware of the proposed gas station redevelopment, but the parties have not yet had formal talks.

“Nothing functions here without the support of the community,” Lummen said. “That’s the big thing. I love the vibe and it’s the residents that will continue to support these things. People are walking from their houses to come to these establishments, and it’s more and more people everyday.”
TAKING NOTICE

While plans for the gas station site remain in the early stages, VanStrien and O’Connor said they hear increasing demand for newly built quality housing options in the neighborhood.

As proof, they noted that many staff members at Long Road now live in the immediate area.

Other investors appear to be taking note of the demand as well. A drive or walk down the West Leonard corridor shows multiple older buildings — many of them vacant — quietly being worked on and at various stages of construction and redevelopment.

Additionally, the property at the southwest corner of Leonard Street and Broadway Avenue went up for sale in early January for $1.5 million, according to the property listing. The site consists of two single-family homes and four commercial buildings with frontage on Leonard Street. It last sold in 1999 for $60,968, according to property records.

Long Road’s owners say they’re hopeful more developers come into the West Grand neighborhood and activate many of the vacant buildings in the area. And while they’re confident that their proposed mixed-use project will take place, VanStrien and O’Connor said it was too early to offer a specific timeframe for the redevelopment because the growth and sustainability of their distillery operations must take priority.

Since launching in late May last year, Long Road has focused on ramping up its distribution efforts and already expanded with an upstairs event space and music venue. In the coming months, the distillery also plans to release a variety of small-batch aged ryes and whiskeys.

As they continue to develop the plans for the mixed-use project, they’re watching the neighborhood grow and eyeing needs that could be filled in the ground-floor commercial space at the redevelopment.

“The first two things that came to our head were cider and coffee,” O’Connor said of needs in the neighborhood. “We saw this as a really great opportunity to do something unique in the fact that I can’t think of another place in this country where you can get beer, liquor and cider in consecutive addresses and independently owned and operated. … The fact that we have three independent things is just a unique opportunity to sort of put a foothold here as this corner of craft beverage making.”

Full Story by Nick Manes available here.

Long Road Distillers

With craft distilling on the rise, some are cashing in without even making their own product.

By Pat Evans and Jesse O’Brien for the Grand Rapids Business Journal

The story behind a bottle of spirits sitting on the shelf might be murkier than its contents.

Look closely at that bottle and the label can be confusing — and misleading.

There are a variety of descriptions that can be slapped on a label, including, “Distilled in,” “Bottled In,” “Manufactured In,” “Produced In,” “Aged In” and any combination of those.

Just because a label reads “Bottled in Michigan” does not mean the spirits were made in Michigan, said Kent Rabish, owner of Grand Traverse Distillery in Traverse City. If it reads anything other than “distilled,” at least in whiskey, it wasn’t made by the company.

Rabish said the distilling industry is mostly split in two camps, with producers and merchant producers.

Producers, like Grand Traverse Distillery and Long Road Distillers, are involved with nearly the entire process of distilling, from grain to bottle. Merchant producers purchase their spirits from a larger distillery, often in bulk quantities and sell it under their own label.

This shouldn’t be a problem, Rabish said, unless the “craft” distiller is intentionally deceiving the consumer. In some cases, he said, distillers are buying their spirits from industrial factories that churn out whiskey, and then sell it under a “craft” label.

“I think that’s kind of the tragedy of non-distillers,” Rabish said. “They’re clogging the shelves. It looks like craft, like they bring raw grain in, like they have product they’re making. (Craft) costs more, but it’s a better product.

“I try to point out to people, why do most vodkas taste alike? Because most are made by the same handful of companies.”

Rabish anticipates that soon enough, consumers will begin to notice the difference in taste, and the divide between distillers and merchant producers will become clearer.

“It’s getting out there and I do think the customers of craft spirits will start hearing rumblings and start hearing more and more about who’s making it and who are the merchant distillers,” Rabish said. “There’s no reason you can’t set up a company and be a merchant distiller, you’ve just got to be straightforward with what you’re doing.

“And I think over time it’s going to pan out. I think long term, the ones who are going to succeed in this industry are the ones who are honest about their product.”

There is some gray area as producers are often limited by the type of still they have and might only be able to produce a whiskey or vodka or gin, and would like to package and sell the others, said Jon O’Connor, co-owner of Long Road.

“There are layers. There are legit distillers making all their own whiskies but they buy vodka,” O’Connor said. “At least they’re trying to make some stuff — that’s good.”

Still, many distilleries opening up across the country perform zero distillations because the rebranding of already distilled spirits makes financial sense as starting a distillery is a capital-intensive business.

A distiller hoping to enter the market and create an authentic product with an authentic brand would first need to spend approximately $1 million on necessary equipment, thousands of pounds of grain, labor and utility costs to run a still three times, mash for eight hours and hand bottle and label the finished product. Distillers hoping to sell authentic aged whiskey must sit on inventory for years before it’s ready to sell.

“We’re not playing the short game; it’s capital intensive,” O’Connor said. “That’s why people take the short cut. To get whiskey takes a while. To make vodka is not cheap.”

Rabish said some new distillers might choose to buy their whiskey from an industrial manufacturer, with the intention of selling their own whiskey after it’s been aged. In theory, a distiller could build its brand this way, selling bottled whiskey until it is ready to bring its own aged whiskey to the market. However, that’s not always the case.

“There’s a number of brands out there that have been on the market for four or five years and still not selling their own whiskey,” Rabish said. “They’re selling product, they’re making a profit, but I think five years from now, customers will figure it out and it’ll catch up to them.”

That’s where “clogging the shelves” comes into play. Nondistillers are selling bulk-produced spirits under the guise of being handcrafted at a significant advantage, due to the large disparity in manufacturing costs.

A $14 bottle of “craft” vodka on a liquor store shelf is relatively impossible, O’Connor said.

“You can’t do it without buying vodka for $1.50 a gallon,” he said.

Antiquated state liquor laws have a big effect on the end shelf price, said Kyle Van Strien, O’Connor’s partner at Long Road.

At the federal level, producers are taxed by gallons produced. So small distilleries like Long Road and larger ones such as Smirnoff are taxed at the same rate based on how much they produce. Michigan, however, taxes based on how much a distiller can sell its product to the state, creating a huge disadvantage for smaller producers.

“For us, a bottle of vodka, maybe we’re paying more than $8 in state taxes,” Van Strien said. “Popov pays about $2.50 for the same quantity of vodka because it’s cheap and they produce on such a (large) scale that they can.”

The mass-produced quantity is where it becomes an issue as some “craft” distillers can buy from those massive producers and bottle it and label it as their own and sell it for a “craft” markup of $30 or more a bottle.

“It costs eight to 10 times more to start with grain,” O’Connor said. “You can buy a gallon of high proof vodka for two bucks a gallon, and the margins are exceptional if you can throw a craft brand on it and sell it for $30 bucks.”

Several major brands have been caught in the transparency issue, including Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Templeton Rye Whiskey.

In 2014, following an article in Forbes magazine detailing the process of Tito’s handmade process, several lawyers sued Tito’s over that key word in the name: “handmade.” While Tito’s has an elaborate story, the reality is the vodka starts as a neutral grain spirit shipped from a factory in Iowa and redistilled as Tito’s vodka.

Judges in various courts have been torn in the decision on Tito’s, including in New York and California where judges ruled consumers can be confused by the term, while in Florida the judge dismissed five of six charges.

Templeton settled three class action lawsuits last year in cases questioning the whiskey’s “Made in Iowa” claim, as the whiskey is really made by a company in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Templeton also had produced a branding story suggesting it was using a pre-Prohibition recipe for “small batch rye whiskey.”

Both Tito’s and Templeton have turned into national brands, with similar stories happening at a more local level, and it doesn’t help the distillers trying to build an authentic brand from scratch, Van Strien said.

“It’s not bad whiskey or vodka,” O’Connor added. “Everyone picks the way they do business. For us, the authenticity thing has been so paramount to what we want to do. Do you want to lie to people to make a fast buck? (If) that’s your business model, go ahead.

“But I don’t want to be compared to someone else because I’ve chosen to do something in an authentic manner.”

Full story available here.

Long Road Distillers

The West Leonard beverage scene is growing bigger.

Hard cider maker People’s Cider Co. is planning to open a tasting room in Grand Rapids, at 539 Leonard St. NW, next door to craft spirits maker Long Road Distillers, at 537 Leonard St. NW, and at the same corner as Mitten Brewing Co., at 527 Leonard St. NW, and Two Scotts BBQ.

The plans still need go to the Grand Rapids Planning Commission on Feb. 11, as well as the city commission and liquor control commission.

“There is no other place, that we know of, that these places exist with a consecutive address,” People’s Cider owner Jason Lummen said of having a brewery, distillery and cidery all in a row. “It’s not one large project. It’s three separate businesses all collaborating with each other.

“We’re all creating things that are enhancing the neighborhood, continuing to make it a great place to live and a great place to work.”

Lummen hopes the space will be completed and open by May 1, the fourth anniversary of the company.

The space

The opportunity came when the same company that owns the Long Road Distillers building, which owns the site next door, separated the Chicago Style Gyro shop, which will remain open.

“What we’re effectively doing is utilizing the urban street wall,” Lummen said.

The owner of the buildings didn’t want to lose the gyro shop, however.

“They’re a great asset to the neighborhood and add a diversity of food we don’t have in many places in this city, let alone this neighborhood,” Long Road Distillers co-owner Kyle Van Strien said.

People’s Cider

People’s Cider is currently operating a tasting room out of its 1,000-square-foot production facility in Grand Rapids, at 600 Maryland Ave. NE.

The new tasting room will open up about 400 square feet of space that People’s Cider can use for expanded production. Last year, People’s produced about 5,000 gallons of cider, and Lummen expects this move to double the number.

“Right now, I’m limited by how much finished product I can put out in a week, and this will drastically increase production capabilities,” Lummen said. “I want to be good to the existing wholesale we have now and use the space to grow the brand.”

The new tasting room will also be the first time Lummen has needed employees.

“It’s still pretty small, but it’s big for us,” Lummen said. “It’s more than I can handle. But I’m happy to be able to provide income for more people and families.”

Former plan

In 2013, Lummen had plans to open a tasting room on Jefferson Avenue. The plan, however, fell a part when a new owner purchased the building.

Lummen said that was a blessing in disguise.

“I wish it could have worked out, but it’s funny how things always work out,” Lummen said. “That one was a little bit early, but this one I’m ready for. I was extended a little bit further than I should have then, but it didn’t sink the project.”

This opportunity comes at a time when he feels it’s better for the company and as production needs to be increased.

It’s also in a neighborhood he would pick over any other in the city, despite being a lifelong Eastown devotee.

“If I sit down and think about where I want to be, this is where it’d be,” Lummen said. “This is a premier neighborhood of Grand Rapids and is extremely proud and vibrant.

“It’s a great place to live, great place to work, and I hope to add to the diversity.”

Full Story Here.

Long Road Distillers

A local distillery has launched its Michigan distribution.

Long Road Distillers in Grand Rapids launched two of its spirits into statewide distribution this month.

The distillery’s gin and vodka are now available to all restaurants, bars and retailers in Michigan.

The distillery opened in May, and distribution is coming right about when co-owners Kyle Van Strien and Jon O’Connor expected in their timeline.

“We wanted to make sure we could meet demand here and work out our kinks,” O’Connor said. “A lot of times, distillers go into distribution and can’t satisfy demand. They get an initial launch and can’t provide more.”

Van Strien said one of the most common questions from a restaurant group is, “If we run a featured cocktail at our three locations, will we run out?”

Now, Van Strien said that assurance is possible and within the first week, The Winchester in Grand Rapids had a cocktail menu featuring spirits by Long Road Distillers.

Van Strien added that several other local businesses will carry its products: Donkey; Siciliano’s Market; Rishi’s International Beverage; and Essence Restaurant Group.

“To see some of the places we respect so much have our products . . . it’s a lot of fun,” Van Strien said.

O’Connor said they welcome restaurant and bars to bring in owners, managers and staff to show them the manufacturing process.

“We encourage other folks to reach out,” O’Connor said. “We love to host potential partners. We want to educate people on what makes our products different and what’s unique about it. The more people we talk through the process, the better.”

Long Road Distillers

A local distillery has opened up an addition.

Long Road Distillers just opened its upstairs, The Rickhouse at Long Road, at 537 Leonard St. NW.

Event space

The space holds 160 people and is available for special events and general overflow on the weekends.

The space rents for $100 an hour for a three-hour minimum and a $500 food-and-drink minimum on weekends. The weekday rate is considerably cheaper, said Kyle Van Strien, co-founder, Long Road Distillers.

“We want people to use it, but we do anticipate to raise it as we see demand,” Van Strien said.

Cocktail classes

Long Road Distillers will use the space to host its first cocktail class next Tuesday.

The class is the first of many events Long Road expects to host in the space.

Cocktail classes will be an ongoing series for the distillery, said Jon O’Connor, co-founder, Long Road Distillers.

“There’s a heightened awareness in the country about cocktails, and it’s just starting to make its way to Grand Rapids,” O’Connor said. “We’re hoping to be a part of that transformation.”

While the first class will be a general overview of the history of distillation and cocktails, future classes will have a specific focus on different cocktails.

The class on Tuesday will be hands-on, as students will taste every aspect of the cocktails, from simple syrup and sugar to bitters and the spirits.

“This class will be history and structure, techniques,” Van Strien said. “We use many methods to craft cocktails and how to make better drinks at home. It will also require lots of tasting.”

Grand Rapids Business Journal, Pat Evans

Full Article

Long Road Distillers

During the prohibition era, people used to distill their own liquor in their bathtubs.

Long Road Distillery, the recently opened craft distillery on Grand Rapids’ West Side, is offering an unusual way to remember that slice of American history.

In conjunction with the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s opening of the exhibit “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition,” the distillery will release a “bathtub gin kit” featuring a bottle of Long Road vodka, botanicals for infusing, straining cloth, funnel, instruction card and commemorative bottle with specially designed label.

“Bathtub gin” was a phrase used in reference to any inexpensive, homemade liquor, not just gin.

Of course, distilling liquor at home is still illegal. Long Road features the first four legal stills ever in the city of Grand Rapids. The kit is designed to enhance the flavor of the vodka, the kit is also in the spirit – pun intended – of the 1920s era, when Americans used ingenuity to make their own alcoholic beverages, a trait in common with modern craft distilleries and breweries.

The kit is priced at $49.99 and for sale at the distillery, 537 Leonard St. NW, with $5 from each kit sold donated to the museum to support the exhibit.

“It’s a simple botanical blend included with the kit,” said Long Road co-owner Kyle Van Strien. “It’s not just going to cover up the flavor, because I think our vodka is exceptional. But it will enhance it, make it different and unique.”

The National Constitution Center’s exhibit, which opens Sept. 26, 2015 and runs through Jan. 17, 2016, will cover the temperance movement, the Roaring ’20s and the repeal of the constitutional amendment banning alcoholic beverages. More than 100 artifacts will be featured, including flapper dresses, prohibition propaganda, Al Capone’s guilty verdict and, of course, home equipment used to brew illegal beer and moonshine.

Related: Look back: Grand Rapids embraced both sides of Prohibition

Van Strien said the idea for the tie-in came when he attended a museum fundraiser for the exhibit, and inquired whether Long Road would feature the city’s first legal still. He and Long Road partner Jon O’Connor considered making a special sugar shine or corn whiskey in conjunction with the exhibit, similar to how Founders Brewing Co. created Furniture City Stock Ale for a museum beer exhibit in 2012. But they struggled to come up with a good, unique liquor, and faced time restraints in getting legal approval for a new formula and label.

So they decided to make the product interactive, and reusable. Van Strien said different botanical blends will be sold at the distillery, adding that people could go to the spice shop and use the kit to experiment with their own flavors.

“Honestly, it was easier for us to use an existing product, then have people do the alterations at home,” Van Strien said. “It’s a fun way to commemorate the period and it’s period-specific.”

Long Road opened in June 2015 and offers vodka, gin, whisky, apple brandy and more, made on-site. The distillery offers tours, cocktails and a farm-to-table food menu.

John Serba is film critic and entertainment reporter for MLive and The Grand Rapids Press. Email him at jserba@mlive.com or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Full Article Here.

Book A Tour