Vikre distillery wins national award


Vikre Distillery took first place in a USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice award for best craft specialty spirits, beating out major players like St. George Spirits and Koval Distillery.

Joel and Emily Vikre founded the craft distillery in 2012 and started selling gin and aquavit to the public in 2014. With traditional distilling methods, Lake Superior water and the inventive use of local botanicals foraged in the Northwoods, Vikre is creating unparalleled products.

A panel of spirits experts determined a list of 20 nominees for the poll. It was then narrowed down to 10 contenders and finalized through online voting (people could vote once per day per device during the 28-day voting period).

President and arbiter of taste Emily Vikre admits it was a bit of a popularity contest since distilleries worked to mobilize their fans to vote. Still, this national acknowledgement of Vikre’s success is a major accomplishment.

“It was a thrill to be nominated and in the company of these other big names in the craft distilling world,” she says.

Emily suspects Vikre’s nomination has to do with aquavit — one of the distillery’s more unusual offerings. She grew up on this traditional Scandinavian spirit, flavored with caraway and cardamom. It’s gaining in popularity in the United States with the rise in Nordic cuisine, but is still relatively uncommon. Vikre’s Øvrevann Aquavit is a unique interpretation of the spirit. Cleverly dubbed “a whiskey for Vikings,” it’s aged in cognac barrels.

Vikre began releasing versions of its Sugarbush Whiskey late last year. Sugarbush Whiskey – Lot 3 was released last week. It’s the oldest of the whiskeys released so far, aged for over a year. This isn’t old for a whiskey, but the intention is to showcase “young and green characteristics,” according to Emily. Lot 3 is reportedly more mellow and complex than the previous two versions and has a pronounced rye flavor that lends itself to making an exceptional Manhattan.

Other products in the pipeline are a smoky rye whiskey to be released in late October or November and a three-year-old single malt whiskey that will be released in late winter.

Vikre has been winning statewide accolades for some time and has won medals from the American Craft Distiller’s Association. With this latest award, the little distillery, located at the foot of the lift bridge in Canal Park at 525 South Lake Ave, is helping put Duluth on the map much like the Outside contest in 2014, which earned the city the title of “Best Town in America.”

Emily grew up in Duluth and lived away for a decade. She says she’s noticed a newfound pride in Duluth. “People love Duluth. They’re proud of Duluth and want to help build it up … We couldn’t be more thankful for all the community support we received.”

Learn more about Vikre’s founders in this video by Old Saw Media.

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