Vikre DistilleryGenerations 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.
Our CraftThe nature and culture of Northern Minnesota are our 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 forage the Northwoods for wild botanicals; 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, from scratch, is our vocation.
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 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.
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 of 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. Skål!
Shhhh. We have a few spirits still in the distilling and aging process. Our whiskeys will be available in the years to come.
Coming not-so-soon (it’s better that way):
- • Iron Range American Single Malt
- • Gunflint Bourbon
- • Temperance River Rye
Joel Vikre, Co-Founder, CEO & Distiller:Joel has followed a crooked path. Weird highlight/lowlights: Getting bitten by a bat while mist netting at night in a Costa Rican rain forest. Working with nuns at a clinic on a landfill in Tijuana. Dropping out of medical school. 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 strange background in strategy, plus his hobby-honed mechanical skills, to assemble and run our crazy distilling apparatus.
Emily Vikre, Co-Founder and Emily is a
native Duluthian, PhD candidate in food policy at Tufts University,
and mastermind of the cooking blog Five and Spice fiveandspice.com
as well as a columnist for the James Beard award-winning site Food52.
She’s an award-winning wine taster. She’s the palate of the
Arbiter of Taste
Espen Vikre, Distillery Baby:Espen is the head of the distillery’s cuteness division. He holds a Masters of Science in adorableness and is working on a PhD in being a darling. We are pretty sure he’ll be able to work a tri-clamp by his first birthday.
Squid, Distillery Dog:Squid considers herself head of distillery security, and spends her time monitoring smells and watching passersby through the window when at the distillery. In her spare time she monitors the smells on the various running trails in town and goes on patrol to rout any squirrel that dares to descend from a tree.
AccoladesAmerican Craft Distiller's
Association Annual Awards 2014:
Boreal Spruce Gin (Gold)
Boreal Juniper Gin (Silver)
Cedar Boreal Gin (Silver)
Where To BuyWe're working on a function so you can search for the stores and establishments nearest you that have our products. For now you can use this handy dandy map that we’ll continue updating. Not in Minnesota? You can purchase online through South Lyndale. Not all states allow shipping of alcohol.
BlogavulinYou can keep up with our progress, plus
be the first to hear about special
offerings at our blog.
Distillery Visitor Center
Wednesday—Sunday 12-6 pm