Food Service & Agriculture, Manufacturing, and Retail

Craft spirit wins company Distillery of the Year title

April 26, 2017
| By Pat Evans |
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Long Road Distillers bar
Long Road Distillers in northwest Grand Rapids features cocktails, farm-fresh food and to-go bottles. Photo via

A local distillery was named the best maker of a craft spirit at an international competition in Germany.

Grand Rapids-based Long Road Distillers was named Aquavit Distillery of the Year at the Berlin International Spirits Competition.

More than 400 spirits from 20 countries were entered in the double-blind taste-test competition.

The award was given for Long Road Old Aquavit, a barrel-aged version of the distillery’s award-winning aquavit.

“Aquavit is a well-known category throughout Europe," said Kyle VanStrien, co-owner, Long Road Distillers. "We were excited to put our aquavit up against the best, particularly in front of this esteemed panel of judges. We couldn’t be more excited for our team with the results and continue to be affirmed in our effort to create world-class spirits from locally sourced ingredients right here in Grand Rapids."

Aquavit is a Scandinavian gin-like spirit that uses caraway or dill rather than gin’s predominant botanical juniper. It also carries botanicals, such as cumin and star anise.

Long Road’s aquavit was also named Best of Show at the American Craft Spirits Association Awards and Best of Class and Best of Category at the American Distilling Institute’s Annual Judging of Craft Spirits.

The company has won similar awards for the aquavit at competitions in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Denver and San Diego.

Long Road Old Aquavit was available at the tasting room and more has been put into barrels for more production. The spirit is aged in used Long Road rye and wheat whiskey barrels.

“When we put our Aquavit in a few of our used whisky barrels over a year ago, we knew it was a pretty safe bet that the end result would be special,” said, Jon O’Connor, co-owner, Long Road Distillers. “But as we tasted its progress over the course of twelve months, we were really surprised with the depth of flavors and rich complexity that the spirit developed.”

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