Ann Arbor Distilling Co. has only been in business for a little over a year, but it's already making a name for itself at the national level.
The craft distillery took home a silver medal for its Arbor Winter Gin at the American Distilling Institute’s Annual Spirits Competition last week in Baltimore, where judges evaluated more than 800 spirits from independent distilleries around the world. The Winter Gin has also won previous awards in the San Diego Distilled Spirits Competition and the American Craft Spirits Awards.
Ann Arbor Distilling managing director Rob Cleveland credits the ingenuity of distiller John Britton with helping to set the young company's spirits apart.
"One of the reasons our gins have been so popular and won these awards is that we're really approaching it in a way that's fairly different from your typical gin," Cleveland says.
Taking a note from craft beer makers, Ann Arbor Distilling's gins are infused with a variety of botanicals meant to make drinkers "taste the season," the same way a Bell's Oberon makes people think of summer.
"We're thoughtful about how those botanicals are going to impact the drinker and really coming up with a different formula," Cleveland says.
For example, the newly released Arbor Spring Gin highlights hibiscus, while the Arbor Fall Gin (which took home an "Excellence in Packaging" award in last week's competition) might have cardamom notes.
In addition to gin, the distillery also makes vodka, rum, and coffee liqueurs, available at its Ann Arbor tasting room, which recently added live music on weekends and also hosts twice-monthly Moth StorySlam events. Ann Arbor Distilling Co. products are also now served in many area restaurants, and its vodka and Winter Gin are distributed statewide by Meijer.
Eric Gallippo is an Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.