A town still hiding rumrunners tunnels from prohibition.

A lake so compelling that people tattoo its outline on their bodies.

A Norwegian girl who dreams in flavors.

And an American boy who can distill dreams into reality.



Made by the lake

Generations ago (or, well, a generation ago), our Norwegian ancestors discovered a familiar beauty in the Northwoods of Minnesota. In its wildness and purity they felt at home. Vikre (veek-ruh), our family name, means “the people of the bay,” once in Norway, now on the narrow Western tip of Lake Superior. Vikre Distillery is located in Duluth, Minnesota, adjacent to the aerial lift bridge that raises to allow ships in and out of the world’s farthest-inland seaport. No other lake feels this much like the sea. Indeed, Lake Superior is the world’s largest freshwater lake.



The nature and culture of Northern Minnesota are our inspiration and terroir. The pristine beauty of Lake Superior, the North Woods and the Boundary Waters are distilled in the flavor of everything we make. It's difficult to imagine a more perfect place for making distilled spirits. We make assiduously hand crafted spirits that thoughtfully blend tradition and innovation.  We forage the Northwoods for wild botanicals; whenever possible we use local grains, handcrafted Minnesota oak barrels, and the clean, cold water of Lake Superior. Distilling the essence of this great watershed into the finest spirits possible is our passion. Doing so purely and creatively, using traditional methods is our vocation. 

(Want to know a little more? Happy to oblige! Check out this article written by Emily on how we started our business.)



Wood V.jpg

The Northwoods of Minnesota is a borderlands. Picture boreal forests and interconnected waterways, where fog and reflections can make it easy to mistake land, water and sky. It’s a landscape traversable by canoe in the summer, by foot in the Spring and Fall and—for the brave—skis and snowshoes in Winter.

Our Boreal Gins are inspired by the wildness of this place, by its purity and its quiet astonishments. Blending foraged botanicals from the Northwoods with the backbone spices of traditional gins, they reflect what we know in our bones about Northern nature and its flavors.

Our gins have a gentle color imparted by foraged wild botanicals. They’re not too proud for gin and tonics, but damn well good enough for sipping. They’re the perfect companion on a portage through the North country (remember, no glass!). But, if you’re not fortunate enough to experience this amazing landscape yourself, with these gins at least you can still drink it in.

Boreal Gins are for adventurers—be they intrepid mixologists, hikers, snowshoers or canoeists. Each is anchored by one of the unique flavors of Northern Minnesota.

The Ojibwe called it “Gichi-gami,” meaning “big water.” French explorers called it “Le Lac Superieur,” meaning “Upper Lake.” Following the French and Indian War, the English kept the name, “on account of its being superior in magnitude.” Lake Superior is, in fact, the world’s largest body of freshwater. Our unaged (aka taffel-style) aquavit is named Øvrevann, Norwegian for Upper Lake, or Lake Superior.

Aquavit is the original Scandinavian distilled spirit. It’s infused with caraway and cardamom, fundamental spices in Scandinavian cuisine. An early Norwegian version was aged in oak barrels on ocean voyages to Australia. According to Norwegian lore, it was something magic about the two trips across the equator that made it so delicious.  Our aged aquavit doesn't get to travel the high seas (thanks government regulators), but it does get to mature for a year in used cognac barrels, an homage to the French explorers who founded Duluth. 

Call it the audacity of the immigrant, perhaps, but we tried to make our aquavit even better. We conjured the spirit of our bearded Viking ancestors as well as the culinary background Scandinavian immigrants brought to America. We’ve rounded out the traditional caraway with flavors inspired by lympa—a sweet rye bread. Rich and aromatic, Øvrevann Aquavit™ is piquant and refreshing to sip alongside smoked fish or to cut the fat after a heavy holiday meal. It’s a foundation for excellent Nordic-leaning cocktails, but can also help you weather the squalls like a Viking.  Our Voyageur Aquavit starts with malted barley, (like a single malt!) that we ferment and distill before gently infusing it with warm spices and then aging it for a year in used cognac barrels, which gives it a complex oaky, floral finish that makes it wonderful for sipping.  It is truly whiskey for vikings.  Skål!

Lake Superior contains 10% of the world's fresh water. Lake Superior Vodka is distilled and cut from this astonishingly pure water plus a base of malted barley. Our vodka is deep, smooth, and clear, a fitting tribute to the Greatest of Lakes and the city at its Zenith.


While we excitedly await a taste of our Iron Range Single Malt ("coming not-too-soon"), we have been crafting whiskeys that are intentionally younger.  Yup, you read it right!  Intentionally younger.  The first of our Experimental Whiskey Series to make it from barrel to bottle is called Sugarbush.  Instead of trying to speed up the aging process, we focused on flavor.  By playing with grain bills, type of woods that we applied to the whiskey, and techniques which increased the interaction between barrel and spirit, we were able to create something unique: a new northern whiskey; truly representative of our original inspiration, a sugar maple tree in the fall.      

Shhhhhh. We have a few spirits still in the distilling and aging process.

Coming not-too-soon (it's better that way):

Northern Courage Smokey Rye

Temperance River Rye

Gunflint Bourbon

Iron Range Single Malt


We’ve been working at desks in the big city, engaging our creative sides only on evenings and weekends, and we’ve had it. We ditched our careers on the East Coast and headed home to the Northwoods of Minnesota.  It’s time to get creative, to put down roots in a place we love, and to get our hands dirty making something that we can all enjoy.


Emily is a native Duluthian who holds a PhD in food policy and behavioral theory from Tufts University. She is a nationally recognized food and drinks writer.  She is a regular columnist for the James Beard award-winning site Food52, and contributes to a wide swath of other publications including Lucky Peach, Minnesota Public Radio and Norwegian American Weekly, in addition to being the mastermind of the cooking blog Five and Spice fiveandspice.com.  She once accidentally won a wine-tasting contest in France. She’s the palate of the operation and resident mad scientist.


Joel has followed a crooked path. Exciting highlights: Getting bitten by a bat while mist netting at night in a Costa Rican rain forest. Working with nuns running a clinic on a landfill in Tijuana. Leaving medical school to focus on global health and starting not one, but two! internationally acclaimed non-profits that fight HIV-AIDS and promote water sanitation in parts of Africa. Learning how to distill a moonshine called “the tears of the lion” in a mud hut using clay pots from Dani, his Kenyan "grandmother." Now Joel is using his background in strategic planning, plus his hobby-honed mechanical skills, to assemble and run our crazy amounts of equipment.


click here to Meet the rest of our team



Wine Enthusiast:

94 points, Top 100 spirits of 2015 - Boreal Juniper Gin

94 pointsBoreal Spruce Gin

88 pointsBoreal Cedar Gin

American Craft Distiller's Association:

Boreal Spruce Gin (Gold)

Boreal Juniper Gin (Silver)

Cedar Boreal Gin (Silver)

Øvrevann Aquavit (Bronze)

American Distilling Institute:

Boreal Juniper Gin (Bronze)

Boreal Cedar Gin (Bronze)

Øvrevann Aquavit (Silver, Best in Class)

Boreal Spruce Gin (Excellence in packaging) 

San Fransisco World Spirits Competition:

Boreal Juniper Gin (Gold)

Boreal Spruce Gin (Silver)

Boreal Cedar Gin (Silver)

Øvrevann Aquavit (Silver)

Voyageur Aquavit (Silver)

Lake Superior Vodka (Silver)



We've created a map to find a store or establishment near you. Or, if you're not near Minnesota, you can purchase online. Though not all states allow shipping of alcohol.


Distillery Visitor Center and Cocktail Room Hours

spring hours: 

Open Monday - Sunday — 2-11pm

Free tours daily at 5:30pm

And Here is Our Current Cocktail Menu

P.S. we can wash and reuse bottles! Bring in your used bottles and get $1 off a cocktail for each one




You can keep up with our progress, get cocktail recipes, and be the first to hear about special offerings at our blog.




525 Lake Avenue South, Suite 102 Duluth, MN 55802

(218) 481-7401

A Spirited Reflection of One Watershed

Established in 2012