THIS IS THE STORY OF FAR NORTH SPIRITS
It’s a story of two people – Michael Swanson and Cheri Reese – who returned home to find the authenticity of a simple life and fulfill a deep desire to make tangible, artisanal products of unquestionable quality and value.
FOURTH GENERATION FARMERS
The Red River Valley Swanson farm has been continuously farmed by Swansons since 1917. It is a thousand acres of jet-black, abundantly rich soil that produces exceptional rye and heirloom corn. Built in 2013, the distillery sits on what was once a wheat field.
SINGLE ESTATE SPIRITS
The northernmost distillery in the contiguous United States, Far North Spirits makes premium, heritage spirits inspired by Minnesota’s character and agricultural abundance. Located just 25 miles from the Canadian border, we are one of only a handful of estate distilleries nation-wide to also grow our own grains.
ESTATE + GRAINS
LOCATED IN THE MIDST OF THE RED RIVER VALLEY OF THE NORTH, THE SOILS AT FAR NORTH SPIRITS ARE HIGHLY DISTINCTIVE AND DIFFERENT THAN AT ANY OTHER FARMING DISTILLERY IN THE UNITED STATES.
Among the most fertile in the world, these soils owe their richness to the vast ice-age body of water called Lake Agassiz.
Formed from the meltwaters of a huge glacier that covered much of central North America between 30,000 and 10,000 years ago, Lake Agassiz stretched across the top of Minnesota to Eastern North Dakota and up to Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It was larger than any existing lake in the world, and larger than the Caspian Sea.
From the bottom of this primordial seabed, Agassiz’s meltwaters deposited rich layers of jet-black silt which created an authentic character of place—a unique terroir. This silt forms the topsoil farmed by Far North Spirits.
Where corn is the Cabernet Sauvignon of distillery grains—happy in almost any soil or climate, agreeable in any fermenter—rye is the Pinot Noir: thriving in harsh, even marginal climates, it is nervy, tough, combative and recalcitrant. It is the perfect grain to thrive in the challenging climate of Northern Minnesota, where January temperatures often plunge to 25 below zero.
Against what author Michael Pollan has called “King Corn”, the advancing, agro-industrial weed, rye, stands resolute. It’s durable, complex and particularly expressive of the soil it is grown in. Against the hegemony of corn, rye is the upstart, the country-based revolutionary leading a rebellion.
Far North Spirits grows AC Hazlet Winter Rye and two varieties of non-GMO corn, Blue River Organic and Minnesota 13 Heirloom Corn. These grain varieties reflect our commitment to sustainable, environmentally sound and minimally-invasive farming practices. AC Hazlet is especially robust, out-competing weeds and resisting lodging (that is, it doesn’t tip over in strong rain and wind). AC Hazlet has proven to offer more vanilla and spice notes than other varieties of rye grains, making for an especially full bodied and elegant rye whiskey that finishes fat.