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DULUTH - Mayor Don Ness has labeled Duluth as the craft brewing capital of the state.And now, the city on the lake is about to become home to its first-ever distillery for the production of craft spirits.
"I'm super excited," said Joel Vikre, co-owner of Vikre Distillery.
Joel and his wife, Amy, are a Norwegian couple with Duluth roots, and they're behind the new business venture.
"We're going to be making gin. We're going to be making Aquavit -- a Norwegian-flavor spirit," Emily explained.
The company is fittingly called Vikre Distillery.
"Norwegian is Vikre, which means – 'people of the bay'," Emily said.
The couple is about a month or so away from production of a variety of craft spirits -- from gin to whiskey.They say Duluth and Lake Superior are the perfect fit for their long-term vision.
"We started researching it as a business model and discovered that craft distilling is kind of where craft beer was 10 to 20 years ago, which is on the verge of taking off," Emily said.
"Distilling is super cool and especially for people who have gotten interested in beer. It's really that next step. And there's lot of cool new stuff to learn," Joel said.
The two say the "new stuff" will include local ingredients and local fresh water with a focus on local culture and community.
"Minnesota and Wisconsin grains, local foraged botanicals, peat from northern Minnesota, barrels from western Minnesota. So it's all from right here," Joel said.
"Not just the flares of the area, but also the culture and people here. That's one of the reasons we really wanted to do Aquavit, which was a big deal growing up in my family for the holidays," Emily said.It's a first-of-its kind distillery in the Northland that's yet again putting the spirit of Duluth on the national map.
"Not only is it a place worthy of being rooted in. It's just an amazing place, but there's also so many people living here because they want to be here," Joel said.
"Lots of young people. Young people in government, and so there's a lot of action," Emily said.
Emily and Joel, who just became first-time parents, have a whole lot more to say about their new venture.You can check out their Web site at www.VikreDistillery.comYou can expect to see Vikre products in Duluth stores by the holidays.You'll also be able to taste-test at their headquarters in the Paulucci building in Canal Park.