Food Service & Agriculture, Manufacturing, and Retail

Craft spirit makers medal at international competition

January 6, 2017
| By Pat Evans |
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Gray Skies Distillery craft spirit and cocktail mixer
Grand Rapids-based Gray Skies Distillery says its craft spirits are "a distillation of the Midwest, Michigan, Grand Rapids and our neighborhood." Photo via

A pair of local distilleries were awarded medals at an international competition in New York.

Grand Rapids-based Gray Skies Distillery won a gold medal for its Barrel Finished Hopped Gin and Michigan Distillery of the Year at the seventh-annual New York International Spirits Competition, where more than 600 brands were up for awards.

Grand Rapids-based Long Road Distillers won a silver for its cherry brandy and Michigan Brandy Distillery of the Year. 

Other winners included spirit companies such as Smirnoff, Bacardi and Jim Beam.

Gray Skies

The Barrel Finished Hopped Gin introduces Citra hops to the botanicals the spirit uses to derive its flavors. The gin is then aged briefly in a barrel to add “non-typical smoothness and a balanced nature.”

“We experimented with hundreds of gin recipes before settling on this formula,” said Steve Vander Pol, co-owner, Gray Skies Distillery. “A lot of people underestimate the time that it takes to curate a batch of our products. We actually spend hours crushing juniper berries by hand, on site, for each batch of gin. It’s a thorough process.

Gray Skies has also won awards this year for its Barrel Finished Hopped Gin at the Washington Cup Spirits Competition and MicroLiquor Spirits Awards.

Long Road

Long Road distilled multiple brandies in 2016, including apple and cherry.

Each 375-ml bottle of the brandy contains the equivalent of 24 pounds of cherries.

Its cherry brandy has also named Top Rated Fruit Brandy at the International Review of Spirits.

The distillery has won multiple accolades during its first two years of operation, including for its aquavit, vodka, gin and whiskies.

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