Michigan has become renowned for its accomplishments in craft brewing, but another industry that has quickly been taking Michigan, and the world, by storm is craft distilling. The creation of these spirits is nothing new, but dozens of West Michigan distillers are breathing new life into these classic drinks. Whiskey, vodka, gin, and more are being created in our own backyards using local ingredients. These distilleries have received high honors for their craft and are local, West Michigan favorites for their attention to detail, uniqueness, and overall quality.
Spirits & Distilleries in Southern West Michigan
In 2006, a beautiful German 20-foot copper pot still sat at Round Barn Winery in Baroda, begging to be utilized. After brainstorming, it was given some much-needed attention, and introduced DiVine Vodka, an ultra-premium vodka made from hand-picked grapes. It’s distilled in Round Barn’s German 20-foot copper pot still, and was the first Estate Vodka produced in the United States. The distilling adventures continued with 269 Gin, Baroda Bourbon, Berrien Ridge Whiskey, Blue Flame Agave, and Red Sky Rum.
Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks is one of a few organic grain-to-glass distilleries in the U.S. and is certified by MOSA (Midwest Organic Services Association), as well as being kosher certified. It is located in the historic Featherbone Factory building where E.K. Warren once put Three Oaks on the map by revolutionizing corset manufacturing using softer turkey feather bones in place of stiffer whale bone. Within these walls, Journeyman now handcrafts then ages its whiskey, vodka, gin, and rum in small barrels to intensify each batch’s flavor.
Every land has its makers, from crafters of wood to tillers of earth. The makers of Southwest Michigan are masters of wine, beer, and spirits. More and more of these artisans are putting down stakes just off the shore of Lake Michigan, establishing a Makers Trail. See if you can make it to all 36 stops along the trail, tasting the spirits along the way!
More Spirits in Southern West Michigan
Spirits & Distilleries in Central West Michigan
Atwater Brewery & Spirits in Grand Rapids has a seasonal cocktail menu made with Atwater Liquor, distilled on the east side of the state. Their featured cocktails are their D’Russian, Dirty Mary, and Spiced New Fashion. Make sure that these must-try cocktails in downtown Grand Rapids are on your radar!
Coppercraft Distillery in Holland serves spirits built upon the legacy of their West Michigan tradition. They consider every detail as they bring together grain, water, oak, and time to craft the finest premium spirits, making every bottle a tribute to the American Craftsman. The Coppercraft Distillery bar offers samples and retail bottles of all spirits, including vodka, citrus vodka, gin, rum, applejack, bourbons, and whiskeys. This month, Coppercraft is launching all-new, premium packaging and branding on all bottles, with a clean, new look, available in the distillery and at retail locations around Michigan.
The Lumber Baron lounge at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids is currently featuring a craft cocktail with their house barrel of New Holland Beer Barrel Bourbon. This was selected by a panel of ten internal food and beverage managers and directors, and is being served at all of the restaurant outlets in the Amway Grand.
Bier Distillery in Grand Rapids comes from a long line of bakers and brewers. Today, they are looking for a way to put their stamp on a family tradition with their distilled spirits. Now with a new production facility and tasting room located in Comstock Park, Bier Distillery offers handmade cocktails crafted to highlight each of their 12 spirits using herbs grown on-site and homemade syrups and mixers. Bier Distillery invites you in for a drink, but most importantly, they want you to take some time for yourself, shoot the breeze, and share in this communal space.
Long Road Distillers in Grand Rapids has a lineup of handcrafted spirits that is quickly becoming some of the most sought after and highly acclaimed in the world. Both Long Road Gin and Long Road Aquavit have won “Best in the World” at numerous international spirits competitions, and the distillery was named as one of the “Best New Distilleries in the World” by TimeOut USA. Long Road’s no-shortcuts approach starts with 100% locally grown grain and fruit, with each product made start to finish in Grand Rapids. Judge Long Road Distillers for yourself, and see how they rank with the rest of this list!
Keep an eye out for the new offerings from Great Legs Winery, Brewery & Distillery in Holland. The grappa label is approved, and they are releasing their Italian Grappa soon, with their Italian-inspired Limoncello aging for a release in the near future.
The Muskegon area is home to a distillery that has set up shop in an old bank. Here, they create their spirits and serve well-crafted cocktails at reasonable rates. They also offer entertainment, great food, fun events, and a retail outlet. They have become a destination for locals and tourists alike, and reinvigorated the spirit scene in downtown Muskegon.
More Spirits in Central West Michigan
- Grand Traverse Distillery, Grand Rapids
- Gray Skies Distillery, Grand Rapids
- Great Legs Winery, Brewery and Distillery LLC, Holland
- New Holland The Knickerbocker, Grand Rapids
- Thornapple Brewing, Grand Rapids
Spirits & Distilleries in Northern West Michigan
Mammoth Distilling in Central Lake in Bellaire County distills craft spirits that capture the essence of their Northern Michigan home. Overlooking the glacial waters of Torch Lake, they are inspired by the beauty that surrounds them in every season. Their 650 liter copper pot still from Goppingen, Germany, produces vodka, gin, rum whiskey, bourbon, and brandy. They use locally grown grains and botanicals, including corn and rye from Harbor Springs, lavender from Petoskey, apples and pears from Bellaire, cherries from Traverse City, and white pine from Central Lake, so you know what you’re drinking comes from wonderful Northern Michigan.
From their signature Ice Dunes Vodka, made from 100% Michigan grains, to a luscious limoncello aptly named Limoncello di Leelanau, Northern Latitudes Distillery on Lake Leelanau is always experimenting to find the next addition to their line of spirits. They use locally grown corn, rye, wheat, sugar beets, and even horseradish. The tasting room is open seven days a week for you to stop in and get a “Latitude Adjustment.”
Little known fact: Chateau Chantal has their own distillery! They don’t distribute their spirits, so they are all winery exclusives. They distill fresh whole tart cherries from Northern Michigan for their Eau de Vie, which is similar to a cherry vodka. In addition, they distill grapes from their winemaking process and barrel age the spirit for five years in French oak, calling it Cinq a Sept (French Canadian for “Happy Hour”). These spirits are available to taste at their winery, which is open daily.
Other Traverse City vintners and brewers are also getting in on spirits. Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay has their own distillery where they create fruit-based brandies that capture the essence of northern Michigan fruit. They are generally known as Eau de Vie-style spirits which is French for “water of life.” Try one of these uniques spirits and see how it fares against some of the other area distilleries!
More Spirits in Northern West Michigan
- Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville
- Mammoth Distilling Traverse City Outpost, Traverse City
- Traverse City Whiskey Co., Traverse City
Statewide Spirits Resources
- Michigan Craft Distillers Association, Traverse City