Award-winning Holland-made spirits head to more Michigan stores

Originally posted in MLive on June 2, 2016

Coppercraft is developing a national reputation for its Holland-made spirits, if its growing collection of awards is any indicator.

The artisan spirits distiller creates premium, small-batch rum, gin, vodka, citrus vodka, whiskey and bourbon by hand using local ingredients.

The Michigan grocer behind D&W Fresh Markets and Family Fare Supermarkets plans to add Coppercraft’s signature rum and gin to 20 additional stores along the the state’s west coast of the Lower Peninsula. A fifth sells for about $30.

“We’ve been in about seven locations in West Michigan previously, but this is a bigger statewide push,” said Kim Catton, sales director, who co-founded the business with her husband, Walter Catton III, in 2012.

The Holland Township distillery, at 184 120th Ave, is growing. It has added half a dozen employees in the last few months, and is on track to open an accompanying restaurant by early July.

The money for that expansion is coming from an investment from the Windquest Group, a Grand Rapids-based holding company owned by Amway heir Dick DeVos and his wife, Betsy, who are in the process of buying a majority stake in the distillery.

“It’s a very working-capital-intensive business,” Catton said. “That’s what sets us apart from a brewery. Our time to market is such a greater lag.”

The company is worth millions, although most of that value is in the 360 barrels of its crafted spirits in the middle of the aging process. Each barrel holds about 53 gallons, although there is natural evaporation that will reduce the amount.

We’ve been in about seven locations in West Michigan previously, but this is a bigger statewide push. – Kim Catton
“As we see our product age and come to such a level of winning awards and being accepted by the public, the wait is worth it,” Catton said. “Our business model is based on whiskey and bourbons.”

The minimum barrel aging for bourbon is two years, but the sweet spot is somewhere in the four to six year range, she said.

Coppercraft’s award-winning Apple Jack Bourbon and Citrus Vodka is expected to be at retailers this fall. For now, it can only be purchased at Coppercraft. The bourbon is made with corn and rye grown at Boersen Farms in Zeeland.

Coppercraft’s rum recently won a bronze medal at the 2016 American Distiller’s Institute awards in San Diego. It also won a bronze medal from the American Craft Spirits Association and a silver medal at the Denver International Spirits Show.

Coppercraft has taken home a number of other recent awards, including the Gold and Best in Category awards from ADI for its Cask Strength Bourbon.

Coppercraft’s rum, made from locally-sourced molasses and evaporated cane juice, features apple and pear notes with a trace of vanilla and caramel.

It was featured in the Copper Blossom, the signature cocktail of the recent Tulip Time Festival. The distillery has taken advantage of its location to serve as the “ Official Spirit of the Tulip Time Festival” for three consecutive years.