MICHAEL SWANSON + CHERI REESE, OWNERS
Michael and Cheri returned home after 25 years and built Far North Spirits in 2013 on the family’s 100-year-old farm. Michael is a fourth generation Minnesota farmer and the first in his family to marry farming with distilling.
They envisioned a portfolio of spirits focused on provenance: heritage and non-GMO grains, rich Red River Valley soil, pristine Lake Agassiz aquifer water, expertly-made Minnesota barrels, and their own Scandinavian heritage. They steadfastly believe in making the best spirits they possibly can.
Michael oversees all aspects of production from the seeds that are planted in the fields to the spirits that are put in the bottle. Cheri heads up sales, promotion and marketing.
Michael’s background includes research, technical service, sales and marketing in Denver and St. Paul. He holds an MBA from the University of St. Thomas and a BS in biology/chemistry from Concordia College, Moorhead. Cheri spent 20 years in public relations in Minneapolist-St.Paul prior to starting Far North Spirits. She holds a BA in English from Minnesota State University, Moorhead.
They spend every spare minute with their brood of critters –Weston, Millie, Ryely, Boo and Eeep.
Matt was born in Massachusetts, grew up in the Chicago suburbs, went to college in Wisconsin, and somehow ended up here. He’s an engineer by education and has spent the last two years working in church kitchens, so that at least qualifies him to run the still and make bonbons. He’s a huge Catholic nerd, a wannabe prolific reader, and an enthusiast of all things good, true, and beautiful, but especially those things that you can eat or drink.
FAVORITE COCKTAIL: OLD FASHIONED
Joan manages Far North’s cocktail room and event space. She grew up in Hallock and returned to the area after graduating from college with a degree in Hospitality Management. She enjoys cooking, quilting and traveling, and visiting her grown kids Justin, Kaylee and Natalie.
She and her husband Terry live and farm west of Hallock with their dog Misty. She loves being part of a small town where everyone is friendly and cares about what happens in the community.
NAOMI YOUNGGREN REDUX
GERALD + SHIRLEY CARLSON
Gerald and Shirley mix things up behind the bar at Far North on Saturdays. They share a storyline with Mike and Cheri in that they returned to Kennedy, where Shirley grew up, after careers in Minneapolis.
Gerald grew up in Big Falls, MN, a timber logging community. He holds a doctorate in psychology and was department head at Fairview Hospital’s mental health department for many years.
Shirley spent most of her career as director of administration for the YMCA of the USA. They are enthusiastic about food, wine, cocktails and travel. And, they agree that early retirement and the move back to Kittson County in 2009 has been their best decision ever.
SHIRLEY: BASIL SMASH
FAVORITE COCKTAIL: SHOW PONY. ALTHOUGH THERE IS A SPECIAL PLACE IN HER HEART FOR OUR VARIETY OF MULES
Aaron is Far North’s brand ambassador in Minneapolis-St. Paul. He interned with Far North in 2014 and brings his knowledge of production and distilling with him to every metro-area tasting.
He is passionate about craft spirits and experimenting with cocktails, often enlisting wife Meghan and friends to distinguish subtle flavor differences among his original cocktail creations. The furry trio of Dexter (black lab mix), T’Challa and Stasi (cats) keeps things humming on the home front.
You can find him on weekends pouring Far North Spirits and spinning a tale or two.