After much anticipation, I present to you my featured article for Chilled Magazine profiling "Prairie Organic Spirits" under the Distillery Profile. Never released to the public.
THE LOCALS: DISTILLERY PROFILE
Prairie Organic Spirits’ first product, Prairie Organic Vodka, was launched in 2008. Prairie Organic Spirits are made with single vintage, 100% gluten free, non-GMO organic corn that is grown at three family-owned and operated Midwest farms. After harvesting, the crop is brought to a nearby farmer-owned distillery where it is handcrafted into some of the world’s best tasting spirits.
Each family works in their field up to three times longer than conventional farmers, all to cultivate the nutrient-rich soil and organic corn that will become Prairie Spirits. Prairie’s single vintage organic corn is distilled to taste, not a prescribed number of times. That’s because the climate, soil, and moisture levels give each small batch its own unique character.
John Sather, independent organic farmer and owner and operator of Sather Organic Farms, contracts his corn with the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Cooperative (CVEC) located in Benson, Minnesota. With his wife, Angie, they have been farming organically since 1999.
They became involved with Prairie Spirits through the buyer of their corn. Since then, they have been involved in the promotion of Prairie Spirits through commercials and interviews. “My goal is to be part of producing a safe and desirable product to the consumer. I would like people to understand that we take pride in what we do and what we produce,” says Sather.
“What separates Prairie Spirits from other vodka brands is the smoothness of the vodka. It doesn't bite and adds a subtle sweetness to compliment drinks that other vodka's don't. Also, knowing that it is produced with organic corn, and knowing how it is produced, is reassuring.”
At the end of a long day, Sather likes to drink the vodka while overlooking the beach at the lake. He typically likes to mix it with cranberry juice and diet sundrop. This cocktail has become a local favorite.
Jim Aune is the Master Distiller and Operations Manager for the Research & Development team at Phillips Distillery, most recently Prairie Organic Spirits. His father started working for Phillips Distilling in 1934 so he grew up around the business. He joined Phillips Distilling in November 1970. In 1973, he went into the production part of the company and started running the Phillips’ lab in 1976. He became a Senior Blender in 1983. He formulated and oversaw the development of every spirit produced by Phillips since 1982. His first big hit was Root Beer Schnapps in 1985. Jim’s role is to work with the farmer-owned distillery in Benson, Minnesota and go about the steps to ensure they could certify the brand as ‘organic’. They went into production with Prairie Organic Vodka in 2008.
“Phillips Distilling, one of the most innovative and enduring distilled spirits companies in the U.S., saw an unmet need from consumers looking for an elevated cocktail experience. Individuals, now more than ever, care about what they put in their glass, on their tables, and into their bodies. Five years later, we can safely say we’ve successfully introduced a new line with staying power in the American market.” says Aune.
“We are unique because Prairie Organic Spirits is handcrafted from seed to glass by family farmers straight from three Midwest farms and the climate, soil, and moisture levels from these farms give each small batch its own unique character. I’m really proud of Prairie Organic Spirits and the journey we’ve taken to bring to a handcrafted, all organic line of spirits to fruition. Distilled to taste, Prairie Organic Spirits is cultivated by family farms around Minnesota and this level of personal attention means it may be the world’s most meticulously crafted spirit as a result. There is tremendous satisfaction in seeing your work on store shelves and in the finest bars and restaurants in the world. That’s my gain from this experience.”
On a nice day, Jim likes the vodka ‘straight up’, just out of the freezer. He also enjoys it in a martini or with club soda.
The brand has received such a favorable reception since its launch in 2008 that it expanded the product line recently. This past summer, they introduced Prairie Organic Gin, a light and refreshing gin, and Prairie Cucumber-Flavored Organic Vodka, a crisp garden-fresh vodka with soft cucumber flavors. Right now, their focus is on continuing to grow distribution so that many more people can enjoy their handcrafted spirits.
Prairie Organic Spirits are available at liquor stores, grocers, restaurants and bars in select markets across the country, at a suggested retail price of $19.99 for a 750mL bottle.
Learn more about Prairie Organic Spirits here: http://prairievodka.com/products/
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