Food Service & Agriculture, Manufacturing, and Retail

Spirits maker places 1st in national poll

September 14, 2018
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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 fb.com

A local spirits maker has received the top honor from a major travel publication and its readers.

Grand Rapids-based Long Road Distillers was named Best Craft Specialty Spirits Distillery in the U.S. by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards for the second year in a row.

"We have a ton of respect for every nominee on this list, and we’ve admired them as leaders in our industry for years," said Jon O'Connor, co-owner and founder, Long Road Distillers. "To be nominated with them is honor enough — but to top the list is truly humbling.”

The local distillery rose above 20 nominees from around the U.S., chosen by a panel of American spirits experts. The public then had the opportunity to vote for their favorites over the course of four weeks.

The nominating panel included several members: Emily Arden Wells, editor and founder of Gastronomista; Brian Christensen, publisher and editor of Artisan Spirit Magazine; Ziggy Eschliman, founder of ZigStyle and award-winning radio host; Kevin Gray, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Bevvy; Eric Grossman, a food and beverage writer and author of “Craft Spirits;” and Jack Robertiello, a writer and acclaimed wine and spirits judge.

O’Connor and fellow co-owner Kyle VanStrien gave credit not only to their team, but also their customers, family and friends.

“Unlike some competitions where judging takes place amongst a few individuals, this contest offers those that enjoy our spirits around the country an opportunity to show their support," VanStrien said.

"We're proud of our team for constantly living out our mission of crafting world-class spirits right here in West Michigan and always pushing the boundaries of what can be made from local agriculture."

The three-year-old Long Road Distillers has earned numerous national and international awards.

Long Road’s spirits can be found at the distillery on Grand Rapids' West Side and at over 1,000 retailers, bars and restaurants in Michigan.

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