Far North Spirits, a new craft distillery specializing in the small batch production of artisan spirits, began ground work recently on an 8,850 square foot building in Skane Township near Hallock, with production expected to begin in October 2013.
Behind the new business venture is award-winning bartender Ian Lowther, Far North Spirits’ director of sales, who is currently head bartender at the Minneapolis theatre-district restaurant Solera. Ian is the son of Pat and Michal Lowther of Sleepy Eye.
The business venture began with the husband-wife team of Michael Swanson and Cheri Reese who are building the distillery on the fourth-generation Swanson family farm.
The distillery will use custom-made copper stills from Kentucky to produce 4,700 cases of spirits during its first year of production, including 1,500 cases of American-style gin and 2,000 cases of dark, spiced rum, available for sale in November and December 2013 respectively; and 1,200 cases of rye whiskey, which will be barreled in November 2013. Far North Spirits will be the northernmost distillery in the contiguous United States, with distribution focused regionally on the Red River Valley areas of Minnesota and North Dakota, the North Shore and lake country areas of Minnesota and the Twin Cities.
Far North Spirits’ mission is to produce small batch, craft-distilled products that are inspired by northwestern Minnesota’s character and agricultural abundance and that exceed the industry’s highest standards of quality and authenticity.
A distillery must produce fewer than 20,000 cases a year to be considered “craft” and qualify for a reduced licensing fee in Minnesota. At least 12 more craft distilleries, including Far North Spirits, are currently in various stages of planning throughout the state.