Monday, July 21, 2014

Sneak Peek: Long Road Distillers in Grand Rapids

I got an exclusive chance to visit the future home of Long Road Distillers recently, and meet with co-owner Kyle to talk about what the first neighborhood distillery in Grand Rapids will offer.

The building is located at 537 Leonard St NW, which is, as the name would suggest, one of the longest roads in the Grand Rapids area. The entire inside of the building is currently under construction, as they work on clearing out what used to be there (a clothing store & some apartments) and making room for their vision.
 Long Road Distillers will focus on creating a product which is truly local, from sourcing ingredients from local farmers to milling their own grain right in the distillery building. They'll have six fermenters on site to continue the process, with the crowing jewel of the operation being their main still, which is currently on order from Müller in Germany. Kyle let me see a photo of the still's design, but they're keeping it mostly under wraps until the big reveal when they open. I can say that it's a work of art though! The Distillery will feature a giant glass wall at the back of the bar, which will provide a great view of the 15-foot still, so you'll be able to appreciate it as you sit and sip what it's created.

Along with working on putting together a "Mug Club" of sorts, Long Road Distillers has a few more tricks up their sleeves which will offer great opportunities for the community to get involved with what they have going on. One option will be to "buy" a cask of whiskey, and stay with it throughout the ageing process. You can drop by and sample your whiskey as it works its way through the aging process, developing its flavors and depth. Another option will be to purchase kits intended for aging your own whiskey. You'll be able to age it anywhere from three weeks to six months, and taste it along the way to determine when it's ready to drink!

Kyle stands near where the bar will go.
Long Road Distillers will serve simple fare out of their kitchen to accompany their spirits, but want to keep their main focus on producing drinks. They're planning on partnering with some neighboring restaurants to allow for a wider selection of food though. It's great to see local businesses come together in ways like this! Along with a variety of seating in and around the bar on the main floor, the second story will allow for overflow seating, as well as event space that will be available. There are even plans for an outdoor deck area to be added down the line!

I asked Kyle what types of spirits they would be focusing on, and it sounds like they'll have something to satisfy everyone's taste buds! Kyle & co-owner Jon came up with the idea of opening their own distillery over a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey, so you can bet they'll be featuring some of their own varieties of that! They're also planning on doing some experimenting with gin, with lots of ideas for new & different varieties. Did you know that traditional martinis are made with gin? Long Road Distillers will be encouraging people to try this traditional drink with their specialty gins, and I'm sure they'll come up with some great flavor combinations! They'll also have a variety of vodkas, infused with flavors from local produce, and have the goal of creating their own perfect vodka that you can drink neat and warm, and it will still taste perfect.

The second story, which will provide overflow seating,
event space, and offices.
So when will you be able to stop by Long Road Distillers and try their offerings for yourself? They're hoping for a November opening date as of now, but be sure to visit their Facebook page or Website and sign up for email alerts so you'll be the first to know! That way you can impress your friends by bringing them in for a drink before this place explodes onto the scene, and maybe even start aging your own cask of whiskey with their help!

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