The American Distilling Institute (ADI) recently wrapped up its 14th annual Conference and Expo in Baltimore, Maryland. The event was filled with workshops, keynotes, vendors and of course awards. This year’s top award, “Distillery of the Year” was handed out to the crew of Cedar Ridge Distillery of Swisher, Iowa. It seems only fitting that the state that produces the largest amount of corn in the U.S. should walk away with this award.
The 2017 Distillery of the Year award was presented to Cedar Ridge Distillery by ADI President Bill Owens. Bill announced that, “Cedar Ridge was chosen from among a field of more than 1,300 craft distilleries across the country for the quality of their whiskeys, their commitment to grain-to-glass production, their ongoing legislative advocacy and leadership, and their ongoing product innovation.”
Pictured L to R: Bill Owens, Founder & President, American Distilling Institute; from Cedar Ridge, Jeff Quint, Founder & Owner; Murphy Quint, Director of Sales & Distribution; Jamie Siefken, GM; Anna Servey, Marketing Manager; and Kolin Brighton, Head Distiller.
Founded Before Craft Spirits Was a Thing
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Overnight success? Hardly, the folks at Cedar Ridge Distillery go back a long way in distilling years. Cedar Ridge was the first legal distillery opened in Iowa since Prohibition. The distillery was founded 12 years ago in 2005 before craft spirits was even a thing. According to data from Coppersea Distillery’s annual white paper about the Craft Distilling Market, a mere 10 distilleries started in all of 2005. That number pales in comparison to today’s growth where its not uncommon to have 10 distilleries opening per month. My how people’s desire for locally made, authentic products has changed.
Jeff Quint, Founder and Owner of Cedar Ridge, said: “This is huge for us. We’ve been at this for a while. When we opened in 2005, we were one of just a dozen or so new distillers in this country; the word ‘craft’ didn’t even come along to our industry until years later. Today, we sell 20,000 cases a year and are available to about 90% of the U.S. population. We use our own corn. We grow it; we mash it; we ferment it; we distill it; we barrel-age it; and we bottle it. We have about two-and-a-half years’ stock in our rick houses. In our home state, within super-premium bourbon, we’re #2 to only Maker’s Mark. Bill, I suspect this honor might help us reach #1!”
“You’ll always see us emphasizing our roots here in Iowa. I want that feel to come through in our final product and certainly in our messaging. I would say the person who can appreciate the delicacies and you know, dig into the flavor and aroma profiles of a whiskey a little better. I sure hope it’s not going into a punch bowl.”
~ Founder and Master Distiller Jeff Quint
A Family Tradition Started in the 1700s
The Quint family started their first winery, which is still operating, on the Mosel River in Germany in the 1700s. In 1881, John Quint emigrated to eastern Iowa, where the family continued to farm and distill.
In 2005, Jeff thought, “Why not distill some of our grain commercially?,” and Cedar Ridge Distillery was founded. Cedar Ridge’s three German-made CARL copper stills are small holding 40, 100, and 200 gallons each allowing the distillery to produce four barrels of whiskey each day.
Cedar Ridge Distillery makes many craft spirits including,
- Cedar Ridge Iowa Bourbon Whiskey
- Cedar Ridge Reserve Iowa Bourbon Whiskey
- Cedar Ridge Single Malt Whiskey
- Cedar Ridge Malted Rye Whiskey
- Cedar Ridge Wheat Whiskey
- Cedar Ridge Single Malt Whiskey
- Cedar Ridge Unaged Whiskey
- Cedar Ridge Pear Brandy
- Cedar Ridge Dark Rum
- Cedar Ridge Apple Brandy
- Cedar Ridge Grape Brandy
- Howdy’s Old Time Apple Pie Liqueur
- Clearheart Premium Dry Single Batch Gin
- Clearheart Rum
- Clearheart Vodka
Their products are available in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Kansas, and Wisconsin.