Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

45th Parallel tour and tasting

This past weekend, my wife and I jumped in the car with Josh from the Northeast Homebrewers’ Club (NBA), his wife and baby and headed to Wisconsin for a distillery tour. 45th Parallel in New Richmond, pretty cool place. They’ve been up and running since about 2006, outputting over 1,000 gallons of spirits per month. Mainly they focus on premium vodka but also are getting into burbon (plenty of barrels in the process of aging the mandatory two years), and some cheaper gin and vodka to expand their market. The tour was free and so were the samples afterwards.

I’m not crazy into hard alcohol, though I do enjoy a little whiskey and scotch from time to time. I wish they would have had their burbon ready. We tasted their flagship vodka, gin and limoncello, the last of which reminded me a bit of our trip to Italy earlier this year. Ahhhh, that was a nice trip.

I think one of the most interesting things we learned on the tour is that when the distillery owners were first looking for a location, they wanted to be in Northeast Minneapolis but couldn’t afford it due to the $30,000 licensing fee levied on distilleries by Minnesota. In Wisconsin? The same fee is just $1,000. Wow. And actually, the town of New Richmond so desperately wanted the distillery to call their town home that they bought the land for the facility. Not only is the license $29,000 cheaper, but a little Wisconsin town is so desperate for industry that they BOUGHT THE LAND for the place. Nice work, New Richmond. Now that’s you you debate. Also, the distillery happens to be location right next door to the place that makes the caps for their bottles. When I say right next door, I actually mean it’s two buildings next to each other in the middle of a field. They hand deliver the bottle caps the 100 feet from building to building. Pretty cool.

On the way into Wisconsin, we made a brief stop at Casanova liquors in Hudson on the way, picked up a pack of New Glarus Chocolate Abbey, Oskar Blues Old Chub and a few other single bottles. Also, Josh was in San Diego recently visiting relatives and brought me back some Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA. Lot’s of good beer came into my possession on this day. Excited to try these!

Check out some pics of the distillery below:

The stills! Purchased from Germany, the one on the left is used for burbon and the extension on the right is used for vodka and gin.

Burbon barrels

Fermenting... something (I think burbon) at about 34*C / 94*F

They use some barley in their burbon. Wish it would have been ready to taste...

"the research labratory"


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