International liquor maker plans plant
An international spirits maker is planning to open a plant in the region.
Bob Grunstra, chairman of the newly formed Bio Care Spirits USA, said the corporation has leased a 50,000-square-foot space inside a new building owned by Robert Grooters Development Co. in Norton Shores, at 1224 E. Pontaluna Rd.
The company is a U.S. spinoff of Natural Spirits, founded by Ayurveda medicine practitioner Dr. B. Srinivasa Amarnath, which makes bio-alkaloid liquor blends and has plants in India, Nepal and Australia.
Grunstra said Amarnath was looking to expand to the U.S. and was considering Florida or Texas, before Grunstra persuaded him that Michigan’s abundant clean water supply would produce higher-quality blends.
The company plans to outfit the currently empty interior with offices, a laboratory and manufacturing and bottling spaces.
Grunstra said Bio Care estimates it will hire 23 employees within the first 18 months of operation — three-quarters in the shop and one-quarter in the office.
Spirits and other beverages
Bio Care has filed a liquor license request with the State of Michigan. Pending approval, the company will manufacture whiskey, vodka and rum to start and eventually brandy, wine, beer and soda.
“(Dr. Amarnath) introduced the whole idea of using bio-alkaloids in these product lines,” Grunstra said. “They are naturally occurring, associated with flowering plants, and have a significant physiological effect.
“What the doctor has done is basically saying, ‘Okay, if you drink alcohol, it’s not the best for your body, so what can I do…to help mitigate that and lessen the effect?’”
Grunstra said Bio Care will import domestic spirits in bulk, combine them with Michigan water and blend up to 16 herbs and spices into the final product.
“There would be some (Michigan-grown) ingredients,” he said. “But some of the spirits we have we’ll be bringing in (from Tennessee and Kentucky). Initially, we won’t distill. We’ll bring product in, package it and ship it to distributors.”
Grunstra said Bio Care does not plan to use artificial ingredients.
“In many spirits, there’s a lot of artificial ingredients like MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring, poly propylene-glycol — trace amounts of all these is allowed. But we (will) do everything possible not to have that stuff in it,” he said.
The Norton Shores City Council approved last month a six-year tax abatement for Bio Care, concurrent with the company’s six-year lease at the location. Bio Care may apply for another six-year abatement when its current lease is up for renewal.
The city council has also approved blueprints.
Bio Care is awaiting a building permit, so it can begin its build out.