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Although craft beer and locally produced wine have taken the lead in a growing Michigan craft beverage industry, artisan spirits are also emerging, such as Two Birds Artisan Spirits.
Eventually, Two Birds will likely find a permanent home in Michigan, but, for now, it provides Michiganders another artisan spirit choice in an unusual way.
Co-founder Nathan Jonjevic said him and his partner, Ryan Bailey, are “gypsy distillers.” The pair currently makes their Greyling Modern Dry Gin at Yahara Bay, a Madison, Wisc.-based distillery.
“Right now, you can buy a still and a building and go through the (licensing) process, which takes six to 18 months,” Jonjevic said. “So we could be operational in a building and not be allowed to produce for a long time.”
Making matters even more confusing, Jonjevic lives in Missouri, while Bailey calls Michigan home.
It might not seem very Michigan based, but the pair has made a point to source almost exclusively from the Mitten State.
They use a hard red winter wheat and lavender from Northern Michigan in the gin. They only ingredients they struggle with are juniper and citrus peels.
“We source everything from Michigan that we can,” Jonjevic said.
For now, Two Birds will only make the gin, potentially expanding the line in 2014.
The focus now is expanding the market, Jonjevic said, which currently is Missouri and Michigan.
They do have plans to begin distribution this year to Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
“Distilling is funny,” Jonjevic said. “People get into it, because they think it’s a beautiful process — and then it’s all marketing. That’s what we’re doing right now.”