Duluth's First Craft Distillery Launches Line of Spirits

Updated: 02/19/2014 6:18 PM
Created: 02/19/2014 4:41 PM
By: Maarja Anderson

Inside the Paulucci Building in Canal Park there is a new business that looks a little like a laboratory.

"Distilling is chemistry," explained Joel Vikre.

Joel's wife, Emily, is originally from Duluth. A year and a half ago, they moved back to Duluth from the east coast to take on a new venture. In a town known for its craft beer, the Vikres have taken on craft spirits.

This week, Vikre Distillery is rolling out its first line of spirits.

"We have everything we need to make a really great whiskey in Minnesota, especially northern Minnesota," said Emily.

Their water comes from Lake Superior and their grains from Minnesota and Wisconsin.

"Our botanicals are a mixture. We have some things that just can't be grown in Duluth, like grapefruit peel...but what we can find here, we use. So we have foraged for spruce tips and we have sumac from Hawk's Ridge," said Joel.

Their Boreal Gins can now be found at 25 different restaurants and liquor stores across Duluth.

"Each one [gin] takes a different north woods flavor, or a few...using either locally grown or foraged botanicals," explained Emily.

The Boreal Juniper is their most traditional gin. Emily describes it as "juniper-forward" but they also used rhubarb from their backyard, too.

Then there's the Boreal Spruce and Boreal Cedar, which includes black currants from Bayfield, Wis. Each gin has between 10 and 12 different herbs.

The Vikre's began with the idea of a whiskey distillery, but since whiskey needs to age, they decided to make gin while they wait.

The Boreal Gins can be found at Grandma's Restaurant, Canal Park Brewing, and several other bars and restaurants.

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