We are in the midst of a local craft spirits boom, and Vikre Distillery out of Duluth is on the front lines foraging for their own botanicals, utilizing Lake Superior water, and soaking in inspiration from their frigid northland terrain. They hang their hat on their three hand-crafted Boreal Gins: Juniper, Spruce and Cedar, all made right in Canal Park in Duluth. Each one uses classic Minnesota-grown flavors, hand-picked to complement the more traditional gin botanicals.
Vikre Juniper uses a hint of fresh rhubarb as a signature ingredient, accented by lemon and orange rind with strong classic juniper tones, and backed up by pink peppercorn, cardamom and coriander. Definitely the most classic of the three, the slight hint of rhubarb sweetness makes it shine in almost any cocktail.
Vikre Spruce is made with fresh-picked spruce buds found every spring around Duluth. The buds add a resinous pine character that is bright and fresh while being influenced by lavender, sage, rosemary and a few more standard gin botanicals. It plays within the standards of classic gin while being its own spirit. It’s best utilized with fresh citrus and in spruce gin and tonics.
Vikre Cedar is a totally different beast all together. Rested on freshly toasted red cedar wood with sumac, ginger, black currant and a heady dose of anise, it is wood-forward and finishes with an essence of bitter orange. It’s definitively dry and made to be paired with sweetness: fresh grapefruit juice in warm weather or mulled apple in the cold. It is also tailor made for a classic negroni.
Vikre also has two aquavits; they can’t be a Scandinavian-inspired distillery without this signature Scandinavian spirit! Their classic un-aged Ovrevann is gently spiced with caraway, cardamom, peppercorns and orange peel. It is rye bread in a bottle. They then age that base spirit in a cognac cask to make their Voyageur Aquavit, meant to be sipped like a whiskey.
Last but not least, they have a slew of young whiskeys that they’ve been releasing when the time is right. Their Sugarbush was an instant hit—a young bourbon mash aged in port pipes with soft maple staves, creating a whiskey that tastes like fresh maple sap. Their Northern Courage Smoky Rye was just about gone even before it hit the shelves. This weekend we will be getting the first batch of their Iron Range Single Malt, a collaboration made with Bent Paddle Brewing Company (a France 44 favorite). It’s a 100% barley distilled whiskey aged more than two years in ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in a variety of barrels, including white port. We couldn’t be more excited to try it, and this weekend will be your chance as we will be having a special release tasting this Saturday from 3-6. This is an extremely limited product and there won’t be much to go around, so make sure you’re first in line this weekend. Come try the best spirits the north has to offer and get their single malt while you can before it’s gone!