Local Grain to Glass Distillery Awarded ‘Michigan Distillery of the Year’ at International Spirits Competition

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Grand Rapids-based Gray Skies Distillery takes home awards for Barrel Finished Hop Gin and Michigan Distillery of the Year at the 2016 New York International Spirits Competition

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We experimented with hundreds of gin recipes before settling on this formula. We actually spend hours crushing juniper berries by hand, on site, for each batch of gin. It’s a thorough process.

One of the first established distilleries in Grand Rapids, Gray Skies Distillery, was internationally recognized at the 7th annual 2016 New York International Spirits Competition, one of the most respected and notable international spirits competitions based on its unique judging requirements and spirit categories. Real-trade buyers judge each spirit based on their specific category and retail price. The West Michigan distillery was awarded Gold for Barrel Finished Hop Gin, and was named Michigan Distillery of the Year.

The New York International Spirits Competition received over 600 brands entered. The competition presented nine gold awards in the gin category, one of which was awarded to Gray Skies’ Barrel Finished Hop Gin. The award-winning spirit is known for its introduction of Citra hops into the botanical load, which enhances the gin’s citrus elements and notes of grapefruit. The barrel finish adds non-typical smoothness and a balanced nature.

“We are part of a new trend of creating unique and interesting spirits in the same way craft breweries have over the last 20 years,” said Steve Vander Pol, co-owner of Gray Skies Distillery. “We experimented with hundreds of gin recipes before settling on this formula. We actually spend hours crushing juniper berries by hand, on site, for each batch of gin. It’s a thorough process.”

Gray Skies Distillery competed alongside well-known local spirits such as Long Road Distillery, and national spirits such as Smirnoff, Bacardi and Jim Beam.

The 7th annual 2016 New York International Spirits Competition was held on October 23 & 24, 2016 in New York City. Participants entered products within the categories of gin, rum, whiskey, vodka, tequila, cognac and other specialty spirits. The spirits were judged by pricing per category by a prestigious panel of trade only spirit buyers in the New York City area.

The awards received at the 2016 New York International Spirits Competition are just some of the recognitions Gray Skies’ has received this year. Other recognitions include:

  •     Gold Medalist – Barrel Finished Hop Gin at the MicroLiquor Spirit Awards
  •     Silver Medalist – Package Design at the MicroLiquor Spirit Awards
  •     Silver Medalist – Barrel Finished Hop Gin at the Washington Cup Spirits Competition

“Our spirits lineup has grown from two to seven spirits after opening our doors just over one year ago. We are thankful for the positive feedback our spirits have received so far,” said Vander Pol. “Our company has grown from myself and co-owner Brandon Voorhees, to a team of seven and we will continue to grow as quickly as our sales allow us to.”

Gray Skies’ spirits are currently available in many independent liquor stores around Grand Rapids, as well as 70+ restaurants. Distribution is currently limited to Michigan but the distillery has plans to expand to all Great Lakes region.

For more information about Gray Skies Distillery please visit: http://www.grayskiesdistillery.com

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Emma Thibault
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