Sunrise And Sunset - Along With The SW Minne Tour

The sun rose over the distillery this morning as we were busy making vodka and gin, and only one thing came to mind (other than the vodka and gin of course), these are some of the most glorious days in Minnesota. 

Sunrise Over J. Carver Distillery

Sunrise Over J. Carver Distillery

Cool nights and crisp morning air, along with views of breathtaking morning mist dancing across many of our 10,000 lakes, including Lake Waconia, as the sun rises giving us afternoon warmth...this can mean only one thing, autumn in Minnesota is here. 

This is the time so many travel around the state soaking in the sights and smells of the season.  At J. Carver Distillery, we are very grateful to be surrounded by so many wineries and breweries who are buzzing with activity as many customers visit their tap rooms and sampling rooms taking in everything these businesses have to offer from new vintages of wine to the latest seasonal ales on tap. These are exciting times for Waconia and its surrounding communities.

Picturesque Lake Waconia

Picturesque Lake Waconia

Our distillery, and our local breweries and wineries worked with Stephanie and Lori from the SW Metro Chamber of Commerce to set up the SW Minne Beer, Wine & Spirits Tour. Many of you, our distillery friends, have shared with us how much you have enjoyed your visits to these businesses and have asked when we will be open for distillery tours and tastings. We are looking forward to that day, but for now, we are focusing our efforts on getting our products to all of the local liquor stores and area restaurants. We are working on vodka and gin and many other distinctive spirits for you to try. From vodka and gin, to bourbon, brandy and whiskey, we are committed to producing distinct spirits inspired by a tradition of craft and curiosity made with local ingredients just down the road. There will be much more information published on our website in the coming weeks informing you of when and where you can find our products. We look forward to seeing you at your liquor stores in the coming months as we pour samples and have you taste our products. Stay tuned to our website for more information.

Sunset Over Lake Waconia

Sunset Over Lake Waconia

As this gorgeous day comes to an end and the sun is setting, another thing comes to mind…we are still here making vodka and gin…and couldn't be happier! J. Carver – Spirits of Discovery.

The Ambassador Visit – First Dollar of Clear Profit

Waconia Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors

Waconia Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors

We had visitors yesterday. Kellie Sites, President of the Waconia Chamber of Commerce, stopped by with the Chamber Ambassadors to deliver our First Dollar of Clear Profit. We did not really know what that meant until we were presented with a framed one dollar bill which read, “Congratulations and Best Wishes to J. Carver Distillery. May the confidence you have shown in this community be rewarded with many years of success. By way of a start toward this goal, the Waconia Chamber of Commerce presents you with your First Dollar of Clear Profit.” What a great idea and incredible gesture! 

To Kellie, Carmen, and the Ambassadors of the Chamber, thank you for all you do to support this community. You definitely have put the DESTINATION into “Destination Waconia” which was so evident during last Saturday’s successful Nickel Dickel Days! Congratulations! The Chamber and its volunteers do amazing things. We appreciate you sharing your time, gifts and talents with J. Carver Distillery and our community.

Many of the Ambassadors in attendance yesterday read the blog from last week, so it was a perfect opportunity to explain to them the next steps of distillation and now to all of you.  
To recap from last week, in the fermentation process the objective is to convert the starch in the grain to fermentable sugar creating a liquid that is fermentable.  In last week’s blog, it was described as an ale-like liquid. That liquid mash is run through the still in what is called a stripping run and what comes out is a liquid we call a low wine(not wine at all and not beer either). The liquid that comes out of that first stripping run will then go through the rectifying columns in our Vodka Still and will become our J. Carver Premium Vodka. 

The grain for our Premium Vodka is local winter wheat. A question was asked, “can vodka be made from potatoes?” The simple answer is yes. In short, vodka is distilled from the mash of a variety of grains including wheat, corn, rye, potatoes and grapes.

From mashing to fermenting with the next step being distilling, the team at J. Carver Distillery is on track to crafting unique and quality spirits for you to enjoy - In the words of our Lead Distiller, Matt, “Just around the corner, baby! We are that much closer.”


Flurry – Defined By J. Carver Distillery

How can I describe the past week’s activity at J. Carver Distillery in one word? Let’s try this one – FLURRY! Flurry is defined a number of ways by Merriam – Webster on-line dictionary. One definition says, “A brief period of excitement or activity”. Flurry defined another way, “A large amount of something that happens or comes suddenly”. Both definitions perfectly describe the activity since last week’s post. There was a flurry of activity and excitement from Wednesday through Sunday, August 6-10th, at our booth during the Carver County Fair. We were able to answer questions regarding the renovation project at the distillery, from electrical, plumbing, and steam lines, to our products, and our opening date. While at the fair, we all talked about the other flurry - "the large amount of something" - ‘aka’ - the delivery of our stills scheduled for arrival on Monday, August 11th. Many of your questions we had definitive answers and others we could not answer specifically, such as, “When are you going to be open”? As we explained, we will open for distillery tours when we are producing three ore more products to sample and taste (ABSOLUTELY can’t wait for that day!) If you haven't heard, will start out making vodka and gin and will get as much whiskey, brandy and bourbon into barrels for aging. Thirsty? Me too!

So many of you, from near and far, said we were all beaming with excitement at the fair as we announced the delivery date for the the stills. Yes! We were set for Monday morning, August 11th. Right on schedule, minutes before 8 am,  a large, red semi-truck turned onto Mill Lane holding two of the most beautiful, shiny stills to adorn the production floor at the distillery. I heard Matt say, "Billy, the stills are here!" I ran and got my camera so I could add photos to our website photo gallery. Also on the truck, was our large stainless steel mash-tun. The mash tun made the delivery complete and added to all the excitement since we knew it was going to be tight getting that piece of equipment through a window into the building. At that moment, it was great to have friends in all the right places. Jason, Brian and Ryan from Shorewood Engineering down the road on Mill Lane answered our call. (Sounds catchy doesn't it!) We needed some tools and they lent us the helping hands we needed to get the job done as we squeezed the mash tun through the window with just centimeters to clear and I mean centimeters to clear! Thanks for all the help guys! We are so glad you were here during the “flurry” of activity.

Since Tuesday, the day we installed the stills, the activity at the distillery continues! The walls for the hammer mill room and mash tun room were framed. The flooring in the sampling room is being installed, carpeting installation for the conference room starts this afternoon and to top it all off, we are putting the finishing touches together for the first annual J. Carver “Golf With A Purpose” tournament benefiting the Waconia Baseball Association “Raise the Grandstand” project set for next Monday, August 18th at Island View Golf Club with food and beverages served by Island View Dining. Thanks for signing up for the golf tourney, and thanks for subscribing to The Good Gossip E-Newsletter, and liking and following all our social media sites; your comments have been priceless. Whew! This past week was packed with activity at the fair, the distillery and in the community - a flurry indeed! Now, off to the next project! Cheers!!!

Loving The Carver County Fair – Many Come From Near And Far

The Carver County Fair kicked off this week on Wednesday, August 6th, and we were happy to be there to welcome a great number of fairgoers who stopped by our booth to say “Hi”. You have come from near and far…from Waconia to Norway (Norwood too) and everywhere in between inquiring about our production schedule, the types of products we will be producing, and when we were going to be open for distillery tours. 

I thought it might be timely to answer some of those questions in this post. The great news is we received confirmation our stills will arrive on Monday. Make sure you go to our gallery next week. I will be adding photos daily so you can watch the progression of the stills going into place. Once we get the stills installed and get through our inspections, Matt will start on production. Many of you asked what products we will be producing. We are going to produce vodka, gin, whiskey, bourbon, brandy, and liqueurs. We are focusing our efforts on unique, quality products and small batch production that emphasizes the artisan craft distillation process. We are excited to create some really unique spirits. As you have heard us say before, we are driven to succeed in an emerging and undefined industry. We are going to do a lot of exploring and can’t wait for the opportunity to share these products with you. 

It has been so great to meet so many of you.  We are grateful for all the well wishes as we move from renovation to production. I will continue to update you on when we will be open for distillery tours and tastings. Until then, if you haven’t already, stop by and say hi to us as we continue to enjoy our time at the fair. We will be the ones wearing J. Carver Distillery shirts and hats and eating cheese curds and Pork Sandwiches (num) and quenching our thirst with local wines and brews from Parley Lakes Winery, Sovereign Estate Winery in Waconia, and Enki Brewery in Victoria. Yep! Waconia has the Carver County Fair, wineries, breweries and now a distillery to boot –kinda doesn’t get any better than that. Cheers!


Finishing Touches – It’s All In The Details

I've learned a lot of things over the past week as the building renovation project is coming to an end. It’s all about the finishing touches and it’s all in the details. CD Products, our neighbors next door, created our exterior sign and assembled it last week. Matt and Chad, our electricians, are doing the final hook up as I write. The lit sign looks really awesome during the day; we can’t wait to see the sign illuminate tonight. Ken and Dave are finishing up the tile work in the lobby, while Bob, Eric and Joe work away on the plumbing in anticipation for the stills which are on their way. The grain and barrels have been ordered and our bottles are here. Big equipment arrives daily like the huge chilling tower we endearingly call the spaceship. More equipment is on the way and Matt is working on production details. 

As we transition out of the renovation project, the weekly blog will move from construction to production. With that, today’s blog photo of the illuminating sign inspired me to share a recipe for a cocktail I had last weekend. It’s called an Aviation Cocktail. It is a tasty drink and beautiful in the glass too. Put all ingredients (see below) in a shaker with ice. Shake well and pour into a chilled martini glass. This is a perfect cocktail served poolside on a hot, summer day or as you stare at an illuminated J. Carver Distillery sign under the sky. Either way CHEERS and ENJOY!

Aviation Cocktail Recipe

•    2 ounces of gin
•    1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
•    ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
•    2 dashes of crème de violette
•    Orange peel or maraschino cherries for garnish


Aviation Cocktail

Aviation Cocktail