Most of the distilleries I’ve been to are just that, distilleries. They might have a sample area or a gift shop where they can interact with the prospective customers. But at the end of the day, they are there to make a product. This is all well and good. But if you are a small operation, you need to get your name out there. You can’t just hope that people will be walking past the shelf and happen to look at your bottle.
I’ve recently discovered that there is another way to go about it. I recently met a friend for a drink at Tattersall Distilling in Northeast Minneapolis. That’s right, I went to a distillery for a drink. You see, Minnesota recently passed a law allowing distilleries to apply for a license to have a cocktail room on premise. Tattersall was blessed with that all important quality in business—timing—and took full advantage of the new law when they opened.
Tattersall was opened by Dan Oskey and Jon Kreidler about a year, year and a half ago. Friends since childhood, the pair decided to make a career change and attended the Michigan State Distilling School. After learning their craft, they got to work getting the distillery up and running. Oskey was a highly renowned bartender, helping to develop the cocktail program at multiple local establishments including The Strip Club in St. Paul. Kreidler was, to quote their website, “a financial wizard.” But it wasn’t just the two of them, drawing on a wealth of talented friends that included marketers, architects, and others, they set out to build not just a distillery, but an experience.
Tattersall is located in a building with a long history. Built in the 1910s it was a place where they were making the top secret Norden bombsight during World War II. The guard tower still stands above the outdoor patio. With exposed Bethlehem Steel beams, high wood ceilings and concrete floors it was the perfect place to house a distillery and the very cool cocktail room.
The cocktail room is the heart of the business. It is a cool, industrial place to grab a high quality craft cocktail made by bartenders poached from some of the top cocktail establishments in the area. Beyond the glass walls is the distillery itself where patrons may occasionally get to watch the products being made on beautiful Vendome stills.
Though they sell many of their products at local liquors stores and restaurants in Minnesota, the biggest selection is available in the cocktail room itself. It was explained to me this way: the distillery makes all the items that the cocktail room needs. They make gins, vodka, numerous liqueurs and bitters. The notable exception is whiskey. Right now the cocktail room uses a bourbon that is sourced from a distillery in Kentucky and bottled by them for use in their cocktails.
Don’t be sad though. They have started production on a rye whiskey as well as wheated and rye bourbons. The rye whiskey will be 100% rye using rye grain and rye malt and aged for at least two years. They want to put out a straight product. For the bourbons, though they wouldn’t tell me the ingredient ratios, they did let me know that they are using different malts for both the wheat and the rye bourbons as well as a specialty yeast that was developed in Scotland. Kreidler tells me that the barrels are sourced here in Minnesota and will be aged in “as big of barrels as they can buy, though no smaller than 30 gallons.”
Overall I like a lot of the things that Tattersall is doing. With the cocktail room, they know where their money is coming from so they won’t have to cut corners and just sell “what they have.” They can take the time to develop products that are innovative, unique, and most importantly good. Knowing that even with their training, they don’t have all the answers, they brought in consultants who did—on every topic from distilling a clean product to how to set up an industrial factory floor. Knowing that the cocktail room was going to be the lifeblood, they hired the best folks they could to make those cocktails and invested in a cool and cozy spot for people to drink them in.
Overall if you are in the Minneapolis metro area, I’d highly recommend stopping in. I had an Old Fashioned and it was quite good. Tours are given Saturdays.
BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!