12 Spectacular Spirits from Michigan Distilleries

Grand traverse Distillery
Photo Courtesy of travelingmichigan

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Michigan is home to some of the highest-rated beers and wines in the country. But across the state, distilleries are quickly garnering a reputation for spectacular spirits as well. Whether your favorite cocktails are mixed with vodka, gin, whiskey or brandy, it’s a safe bet that a Michigan-made spirit could only make your happy hour happier.


Consider one of these crowd-pleasing favorites:


1. Zeppelin Bend Whiskey – New Holland Brewing Company

Straightforward and rich, this whiskey will impress even the most discerning of palates. It warms you from the inside out when sipped straight or mixed to create a great Manhattan, Old Fashioned or Julep.


2. Pear and Its Spirit – Black Star Farms Suttons Bay

When the air turns crisp nothing warms you quite like a glass of brandy. Black Star’s Pear and Its Spirit brandy is dry, rich, a beautiful after-dinner drink and fun to cook with. Try soaking fruit in it for dessert, or mix the brandy into a fresh fruit salsa. When the brandy gets low, buy another bottle to keep the pear immersed. Isn’t that submerged pear beautiful? Aren’t you dying to know how they got the pear in the bottle?


3. Valentine Vodka – Valentine Distilling Co.

Named World’s Best Vodka at the 2016 World Drinks Awards in London, Valentine distills its spirits from a production facility in Ferndale. Sample the beverage at Valentine’s tasting bar, built of reclaimed construction materials from abandoned Detroit buildings. Or buy a bottle (or two) to take home and share.

4. Coppercraft Gin – Coppercraft Distillery

Sip a Coppercraft gin and take a sensory walk through a Michigan white pine forest. That’s what the Holland-based distillers of this spirit aim for, having used 13 botanicals to create their gin. Dilute your spirits with tonic water and lime or combine with Michigan cherry juice, fresh squeezed lime juice and a little seltzer for a refreshing summer cocktail.


5. W.R. Whiskey – Journeyman Distillery 

A new-make whiskey aged fewer than 24 hours in new white oak, W.R. Whiskey is a bright, floral, raw whiskey unaltered by intense wood flavors. Taste the drink neat to appreciate its unadulterated rye flavors, then add a few rocks and experience the evolution. Journeyman is set in the 19th-century E.K. Warren Featherbone Factory, a former buggy whip and corsets manufacturer in Three Oaks.


6. Nain Rouge Absinthe Verte – Two James Spirits 

A 19th-century French recipe formed the basis of Two James’ absinthe, a lovely green spirit that relies on the distillation of more than 100 pounds of botanicals. Farm-to-glass is the mantra at Two James, where the distillers are obsessed with using locally-sourced ingredients. Find Two James in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest neighborhood, or on your grocery shelves.


7. Islay Rye Whiskey – Grand Traverse Distillery

Crafted from world-class rye grown in the Traverse City area, Grand Traverse Distillery handcrafts its whiskey, vodka, rum and gin one batch at a time. Grand Traverse traces its beginnings to 2007 and ranks as Michigan’s oldest craft distillery.


8. Bourbon – Long Road Distillers

Crafted exclusively from Michigan grains, Long Road’s young bourbon carries bright flavors and satisfies your thirst neat or made into a Manhattan or a Mint Julep. The Grand Rapids-based distillery also produces find vodkas, gins and aquavit.


9. Spirit of the Maple – Sanctuary Spirits

Found nowhere else, the Spirit of the Maple taps into the natural flavors of the Michigan forest. The barrel-aged spirit is distilled from 100% maple syrup.

10. Homegrown Rye – Detroit City Distillery

Detroit City pours its Homegrown Rye, made with Michigan-grown grain, in its tasting room in Detroit’s Eastern Market, Michigan’s oldest and largest farmers market. Taste the spirit in a classic cocktail, like a Sazerac. Or sample one of the distillery’s creative originals, like the Richard Scott, which incorporates apple brandy, cinnamon and black walnut bitters.


11. Blue Label Gin – Red Cedar Spirits Distillery  

Red Cedar’s mainstay Blue Label Gin has a light flavor, easy on the juniper, making this a beverage often favored by those not traditionally drawn to the drink. Want a little fruit in your spirits? Try the Raspberry Gin crafted of Michigan-grown fruit. Red Cedar Spirits, based in East Lansing, traces its beginnings to 1998, making this the oldest distillery in the state of Michigan.