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The distilled spirits produced by Traverse City vintners and microdistillers carry distinctive flavors – from the fruit brandies produced by local wineries (try the cherry eau de vie at Black Star Farms or the delightful Cinq a Sept brandy at Chateau Chantal) to the small-batch vodkas and whiskeys made by Grand Traverse Distillery in Traverse City and Northern Latitudes Distillery in Lake Leelanau.
Grand Traverse Distillery is Michigan’s oldest and largest “grain to bottle” and certified “craft” micro distillery. They produce 4 world class vodkas that are each distilled 37 times from either local rye or wheat blended with the region’s sweet glacial water and some are flavored with local cherries or natural dark chocolate. They also offer 5 whiskeys including double gold medal winning Ole George 100% rye whiskey, bourbon, cherry whiskey and white dog 100% corn whiskey. They also produce a botanical gin, Peninsula Gin, that is getting excellent reviews in spirits journals and their first rum was barreled for aging in October of 2013.
On the Old Mission Peninsula, Jolly Pumpkin has created a wide menu of “Civilized” spirits at their microdistillery – almost all of them compounded with local ingredients: a vodka made from local Riesling grapes, a cherry vodka called Sakura, a gin made with Old Mission juniper berries, and whiskeys made with local rye and wheat.
Northern Latitudes Distillery creates whiskeys that use locally-grown corn, rye and wheat (though, like the brewers, they still have to import barley from nearby states), vodka produced from Michigan wheat, corn and sugar beets – and one flavored with locally-grown horseradish -- as well as gin-flavored with local juniper and other botanicals.
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