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A local spirits maker has won top honors in a national poll.
Grand Rapids-based Long Road Distillers has been awarded the title of Best Craft Brandy Distillery in the country by the USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Travel Awards.
The company was nominated in the specialty spirits, gin, vodka and brandy categories for 2019 and placed among the top three in all four rankings. Long Road topped the list of 20 American distilleries in the craft brandy division.
Readers of USA Today cast votes over a month to name the 10 best craft distilleries in a variety of spirits categories. Long Road placed second in the gin category and third in both vodka and specialty spirits.
"We’re extremely proud of these honors," said Kyle Van Strien, co-owner and founder, Long Road Distillers. "We were fortunate to be nominated in more categories than any other distillery in the country and to place in the top three in all four categories is a testament to the hard work and dedication our team pours into every bottle of Long Road spirit."
The timing of the announcement coincides with Long Road’s annual release of its Michigan Apple Brandy. The award-winning spirit was released last week at both the Grand Rapids and Grand Haven tasting rooms.
“As a small-batch distillery, we only lay down a few barrels of brandy each year," said Jon O’Connor, co-owner and co-founder, Long Road Distillers. "We’re excited for people to try the latest batch of this limited-release spirit — we think it’s the best yet."
Long Road Michigan Apple Brandy is made from heirloom apples grown by Shaefer Orchard in nearby Conklin. The 80-proof spirit has been aged in used whiskey barrels for over a year, allowing flavors to mellow and develop over time, resulting in apple and honey aromas, with a slight toffee finish.
Long Road Distillers previously won Best Craft Specialty Spirits Distillery in the U.S. in USA Today’s 10Best Readers' Choice Travel Awards in 2017 and 2018.
10Best winners are chosen by a panel of American spirits experts. The public then has the opportunity to vote for their favorites over the course of four weeks.