By K.D. Norris
Even in Beer City, men — and women — do not live on beer alone.
Long Road Distillers, based in Grand Rapids, will release a new seasonal gin, “Michigin” — a liquor crafted from 100 percent Michigan ingredients including red winter wheat from Heffron Farms in Belding and juniper harvested by hand on Beaver Island — on Monday, Feb. 6.
The limited-release is the first gin to use all Michigan ingredients, according to supplied material.
“We’ve been planning Michigin since before we opened our doors two years ago, but we were struggling to find a source for Michigan-grown juniper, a non-negotiable ingredient when it comes to gin,” Kyle VanStrien, Long Road Co-owner and Co-Founder, said in supplied material.
Juniper is commonly sourced from Europe or the Pacific Northwest, but last year Long
Road spirits discovered a Michigan source, VanStrien said.
“I mentioned in passing that we were on the hunt for local juniper,” VanStrien said, “and my cousin stopped me and said that it was everywhere on Beaver Island where she grew up!”
Less than a month later, VanStrien and business partner Jon O’Connor were on a small plane headed to Beaver Island, Lake Michigan’s largest island, 30 miles northwest of Charlevoix. After a short scouting visit, it was clear they could find more than enough for a limited production run. During the last week of September 2016, a dozen members of the Long Road staff harvested nearly 200 pounds over a two-day period.
Long Road Distillers is located at 537 Leonard St NW. For more information LongRoadDistillers.com.