A town still hiding rumrunner's tunnels from Prohibition

A lake so compelling people tattoo its outline on their bodies

A Norwegian girl who dreams in flavors

And an American boy who distills dreams into reality



What makes Vikre Distillery what it is?  

-Lake Superior (aka, the world's greatest!) water

-Culinary creativity woven into all our flavors - we make what we truly love and hope you'll love it too

-Passionate stewardship of the resources we use in making our spirits 

We never planned to become distillers.  But one frigid January night, Lake Superior, vast, majestic, mysterious, called us with a bidding we could not refuse.  "Come," she whispered to us.  And we knew we would. 

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 craft superior spirits that thoughtfully blend tradition and innovation.  We forage the Northwoods for wild botanicals; we use local and organic 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 in a way that cares for the watershed is our vocation. 


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 feature a combination of foraged wild botanicals and traditional gin 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 better, and more approachable, than the Norwegian and Danish ones with which we grew up. 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. Light 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.


Sugarbush Whiskey

While we excitedly await our "coming not-too-soon" whiskeys, 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.      

Northern Courage Smokey Rye

Living in the North takes a little bit of courage and maybe, just maybe, a little bit of crazy.  Northern Courage Smokey Rye is a one-of-a-kind whiskey that celebrates the contradictory extremes of the North.  It combines the peppery flavor of rye with the depth of oats, plus a gentle wisp of smoke from cherry-wood-smoked barley malt, and plenty of vanilla and caramel notes from new charred Minnesota white oak barrels.  It is bracing but warming, like a flannel-clad bear hug on an icy winter day.  A little bit crazy, a lot delicious.

Iron Range Single Malt

Iron Range Single Malt is a celebration of the shared history and resources of our region.  It was brewed in collaboration with Bent Paddle Brewing Co. from 100% malted barley.  After aging more than two years in used bourbon barrels it was finished in a mixture of used cooperage, including white port barrels.  On the nose, Iron Range Single malt has notes of stone fruit, cereal, honey, and toast.  On the palate it hits you with a mix of grain, dried fruit, unsweetened chocolate, and hazelnuts.


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

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

Temperance River Rye

Gunflint Bourbon


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

90 points, Top 100 spirits of 2016 - Øvrevann Aquavit

American Craft Distiller's Association:

Gold - Boreal Spruce Gin 

Silver - Boreal Juniper Gin

Silver - Cedar Boreal Gin

Bronze - Øvrevann Aquavit

American Distilling Institute:

Boreal Juniper Gin (Bronze)

Boreal Cedar Gin (Bronze)

Øvrevann Aquavit (Silver, Best in Class)

Boreal Spruce Gin (Excellence in packaging) 




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


Monday - Thursday — 2-11pm

Friday, Saturday, & Sunday — 12-11pm

Closed July 6th, 2017 - We apologize for any inconvience 

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