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Vikre Distillery in Duluth releases its first spirits

At Vikre Distillery, the gin is ready. After 1½ years of planning, fundraising, setup and developing recipes, the startup craft distillery in Duluth released its first spirits last week.

Vikre Distillery
Joel Vikre and his wife Emily sit with their five-month-old son Espen and Squid the dog in their distillery in Canal Park. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)
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At Vikre Distillery, the gin is ready.

After 1½ years of planning, fundraising, setup and developing recipes, the startup craft distillery in Duluth released its first spirits last week. Owners Joel and Emily Vikre's first offerings are a line of boreal gins inspired by the north woods. They combined traditional gin botanicals with locally grown ingredients such as rhubarb, spruce buds, black currants and toasted cedar chips, depending on the variety. Their first gins -- Boreal Spruce, Boreal Juniper and Boreal Cedar -- are named after the tree that provided the flavoring.

Vikre Distillery
The Vikre Distillery released three flavors of gin last week in their “Boreal Gin” collection. (Submitted Photo)

Initially, the gins will be available at about 20 restaurants and liquor stores in the Duluth area. The restaurants include Lake Avenue Café, Zeitgeist Arts Café, Grandma's Saloon & Grill and Canal Park Brewing Company. The liquor stores carrying Vikre gins will include Mount Royal Bottle Shoppe, Lake Aire Bottle Shoppe, Cash Wise Liquor and Super One Liquor. The 750-milliliter bottles should sell for $29.99 to $32.99 a bottle, Joel Vikre said.

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"We're starting in Duluth and will expand throughout Minnesota in the next couple of months," he said.

They plan to introduce an aquavit, which is a Scandinavian caraway-flavored liquor, later this spring. Eventually, they'll offer bourbon, rye and single malt whiskey when they have sufficiently aged.

Located in the Paulucci Building in Canal Park, once home to Jeno Paulucci's Chun-King operation, they plan to open the site to the public in April, offering tours, tastings and sales of related merchandise. At that time, they'll have a grand opening.

So far, state law doesn't allow for the sale of bottles of their liquor on site.

Vikre is the first craft distillery in Duluth and one of the first in Minnesota since Prohibition, the owners said. The craft beer movement in Duluth and the state has paved the way for such a distillery, with the public developing a taste and appreciation for such handcrafted brews and spirits, they said.

Vikre Distillery
Vikre Distillery runs two stills to create their gins. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)

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