Bay City craft distillery launches inaugural run of flagship straight bourbon whiskey

Forget a second wind. As we come to the close of 2020, a third wind is something a lot of us are looking for these days — both literally and figuratively.

The Bay City-based craft distillery Third Wind Distilling Co. has released its first spirit since its founding in 2018. Bottles of Third Wind Straight Bourbon Whiskey are now available to the public and can be found at select stores throughout the region and even the state.

A store locator on the company website identifies where bottles of the inaugural bourbon are sold.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, it scuttled plans for a tasting room. The company's founders hope to open a tasting room in Bangor Township in the future.And the first bottles are selling fast, says Third Wind president and co-founder Konnor Lange. He says the family-owned business expected it might take four to six weeks before they sold out of their initial run.

Stores would pick up that first batch in a span of 72 hours.

“The stores bought it up fast — we hear that some still have it in stock. That’s not necessarily something that we thought would happen right away, but it did,” Lange says.

“Now we’re scrambling to get another batch ready before Christmas.”

It’s difficult for a new craft distillery to gauge the market before the product is ready. It’s even more difficult with straight bourbon, where the law states that it must be aged for at least two years before it’s sold as straight bourbon.

At Third Wind, distillers have decided that their own standard will be a four-year aging process, which means that their straight bourbon won’t be ready for a few years still. In the meantime, Third Wind has enlisted the help of other craft distillers to create a blend of bourbon that matches their own flavor profile, a practice common in the craft distillery industry.

Third Wind is doing all of this amid a pandemic, which has thrown a wrench in their plans for a tasting room. Lange says that once coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted, Third Wind will start searching for a tasting room to be located somewhere in the Bangor Township area.

Third Wind was in the news earlier this year when it began to manufacture sanitizer to help in the efforts to control COVID-19.

“Our brand revolves around the Great Lakes. We’re a nautical family; my dad and grandpa are sailors,” Lange says.

“In the nautical alphabet, every flag denotes a letter. Our Straight Bourbon design comes from the letter M, for Michigan, and the flag means, ‘Hold steady,’ which I think relates to our current state of affairs.”

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