Grand Traverse Distillery
Kent Rabish of Grand Traverse Distillery is the OG of craft distilling in my home state of Michigan. I was lucky enough to be involved in the interview we did with him over on The Bourbon Show and we all just loved his perspective and insight into that world. I immediately devised a plan to get up to Traverse City, MI and visit. Of course, Ms. Kaitlyn White beat me to the punch, which sucks for me because she's beautiful, and sweet, and clever and I'm just big, loud and dumb. Needless to say she stole my thunder, but I don't think anyone minded but me.
I was lucky enough to scoot up to T.C. on Sunday and visit their downtown tasting room. This place was a treat! Wide open, light and airy, plenty of space, a huge bar with countless creative cocktail options, and a friendly and knowledgeable staff happy to suggest a drink, tell the stories of the spirits, or recommend a cocktail.
It was exciting to see how much this place was buzzing on a Sunday afternoon. I snuck in and occupied a seat near the end of the bar and shortly after, nearly every seat in the place filled up. My server, Hanna, expertly moved between the customers coming in, taking orders, mixing drinks, and then popping back over to me for the next pour in my tasting flight.
The Ole George Straight Whiskey is the gem of the collection, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the Peninsula Gin and both Rum offerings I tried. A bottle display behind the bar boasts the spirits in the lineup that have won awards and medals, and that display appears to hold nearly every product offering they have. Needless to say, they make good spirits. It's worth noting that being in Traverse City, they do provide a Cherry Whiskey offering - which is absolutely as good, if not better, than any other flavored whiskey on the market. Kent Rabish, the OG that he is, doesn't exactly gush about this offering, but being in T.C. he has given his customers what they've asked for, and did a damn fine job of it to boot.
I was very impressed by the space, the service and most importantly the spirits. Considering I dropped in mostly unannounced on a windy, Sunday afternoon to find the place packed and the service well equipped to all comers, I'd say Grand Traverse Distillery will continue to set the pace for Michigan distilling for decades to come.