J. Carver Distillery



“A rare multigrain vodka, it imbues terroir while remaining clean and neutral as craft vodka should.”—Smith

You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.

Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s an alphabetical list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary from state to state.


Not One But Two J. Carver – Cruella Amaro and J. Carver Wheat Whiskey

American Craft Spirits Association !00th Issue of Craft Spirits Weekly

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Not One But Two J. Carver – Cruella Amaro and J. Carver Wheat Whiskey

WACONIA, Minn. – October 19, 2018– Today, J. Carver Distillery celebrates over four years of award-winning distilling by announcing the introduction of two new handcrafted spirits: Cruella Amaro, a rye whiskey-based Amaro and J. Carver Wheat Whiskey.  Both products are distilled grain-to-glass and aged in our barrel room at our facility in Waconia, Minnesota, located 30 miles southwest of Minneapolis.

“We are thrilled to introduce these two new whiskies to Minnesota consumers,” stated Founder Bill Miller. “Each is handcrafted in very small batches and based on locally-produced grains and barrels manufactured in Avon and Park Rapids, Minnesota,” continues Miller.  “We hope to add each of these new products to homes and cocktail bars across Minnesota.”

“Four years ago we planned and produced a sophisticated Minnesota Wheat Whiskey despite the lack of interest in wheat whiskies at that time. However, during a gathering of high-profile bartenders at our distillery in Waconia, we received great encouragement to bring this product to market. We believe that we have embarked on a new era where whiskey aficionados include wheat whiskey on their shopping list. Marvel Bar and Shorewood Liquor were so enamored by this endeavor they hand-selected barrels for blending, purchased privately, and the fruits of this collaboration are now available at Marvel Bar in Minneapolis and Shorewood Liquor,” stated Founding Partner Gina Holman. Additional barrels have been blended for release and are now available to restaurants and fine spirits retailers throughout Minnesota.

Cruella Amaro was designed to take whiskey based cocktails to a whole new level. As long time Amaro lovers, we were inspired to create another unique specialty spirit to compliment our Sevilla Liqueur. Using rye whiskey as the base for this product allowed us to introduce the viscosity of an aged whiskey and a spicy finish to the seductive amaro flavors of herbs, barks, and other spices. The result is a devilish interplay of sweet and bitter, as you would expect from a spirit named “Cruella”. This is our distinctive Minnesota twist on a classic Italian-style herbal digestif. Cruella Amaro is worthy of sipping on its own or elevating a pre-prohibition classic cocktail like a Manhattan, Old Fashioned or Negroni. “Our entire team is proud to launch these two new whiskey-based products as they round out our portfolio of unique whiskies introduced over the last four years,” states Holman.

Newly released J. Carver Distillery Wheat Whiskey 100 proof and Cruella Amaro are available for wholesale purchase exclusively through Minneapolis-based distributor Vinocopia, Inc.  Consumers can search the store finder at www.jcarverdistillery.com for retailers by city or zip code including Surdyk’s, South Lyndale, Legacy Wine and Spirits, Shorewood Liquor, Dolce Vita, The Vintage, North Loop, and other fine spirit shops across the state.

Carver Distillery newly released spirits now available include:

Cruella Amaro

Cruella Amaro is an herbal liqueur made at J. Carver Distillery that is commonly consumed as an after-dinner digestif. It has a bitter-sweet flavor with a perfect kiss of sweetness. It is rye whiskey based, and infused with a blend of many herbs, spices and roots, including gentian, saffron, hyssop, rose hip, sweet and bitter orange, chamomile and galenga, with a few other botanicals to balance the many complex flavors. Enjoy the many tasty herbal flavors of Cruella on its own or use with our Sevilla Liqueur to elevate amazing flavors when making your Old Fashioned, Manhattan, or Whiskey Sour. (70 proof)

Carver Wheat Whiskey 100 proof

This 100 proof wheat whiskey has a mash bill of 71% local MN winter wheat, 20% MN corn, 9% malted barley, & has been aged for at least three years in charred oak barrels coopered in Minnesota. This is a sophisticated whiskey that offers rich, robust flavors from the influence of local MN winter wheat. This local J. Carver Wheat Whiskey is worthy of being included in every whiskey aficionado’s collection. 100 proof

About J. Carver Distillery  

  1. Carver Distillery crafts distinctive award-winning spirits inspired by a tradition of craft and curiosity, harkening back to the days of unchartered exploration and wonder. J. Carver Distillery is open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Stop in and experience a tour and tasting and their grain-to-glass approach to distilling. Join their many enthusiastic customers in sampling locally made vodka, gin, barrel gin, apple brandy, grappa, bourbon, rye whiskey, liqueurs, and now small batch specialty spirits and hand-crafted cocktails in their cocktail room. Founded in 2013 in Waconia, Minnesota, partners include Bill Miller (Waconia), Gina Holman (Victoria), Beth Aschinger (Spring Park), and Dan Niesen (Waconia), Gregg Groechel (Wayzata), John Zupan (Waconia), Tom Kullman (Waconia) More information is available online at www.jcarverdistillery.com.

You must be at least 21 years of age to drink alcoholic beverages. Do not drink and drive, and please drink responsibly.

For more information please contact:

Gina Holman

mobile 612-306-7870/ office 952-442-2433/ ginah@jcarverdistillery.com


Craft Cocktail: God Save The Queen at Nightingale

Craft Cocktail: God Save The Queen at Nightingale  September 24, 2018 by John Garland

Craft Cocktail: God Save The Queen at Nightingale

September 24, 2018 by John Garland

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Craft Cocktail: God Save The Queen at Nightingale

When you’ve met as many bartenders as I have (on purely journalistic endeavors, mind you, or at least that’s the story I’m going with), you start to notice where they hang out after their shifts. One prime locale for the late-night industry crowd is Nightingale, the sleek and cozy Lyndale Avenue hangout where you might hear vinyl spinning over the rabble of a handsome crowd noshing on oysters and chicken liver paté.

“We’re very much ourselves,” says Olivia Engel, bartender at Nightingale. “We don’t wear uniforms and we have a veteran staff. It’s really tight knit, like a family, and I think that people in the industry respond to that mentality.”

They probably also respond to the tremendous cocktail list. We do too, and are soaking up the last of the warm weather with a sunshiny gin cocktail. “This drink is very well-balanced; the J. Carver is an amazing gin,” Engel says. “A cocktail like this has a lot going on, and a barrel gin stands up to it all.”

The drink pours a brilliant yellow gold and smells like a garden full of lemony herbs. The flavor is in Bee’s Knees territory but with the added depth of tannin from the barrel gin and a dry, herbal finish from the mouth-coating absinthe.

You can get powdered bee pollen at your local co-op, which you’d then mix into a regular simple syrup for a bright and floral zing. But if you don’t want to go through the trouble, you could always 86 the pollen and make it up with a little more honey syrup (plus a little more lemon juice for balance).

"God Save The Queen" at Nightingale // Photo by Katie Cannon

“God Save The Queen” at Nightingale // Photo by Katie Cannon

God Save The Queen


1¾ ounces J. Carver Barrel Gin

½ ounce Cocchi Americano

½ ounce honey simple syrup

¼ ounce lemon juice

¼ ounce bee pollen syrup

Absinthe (St. George recommended) Optional: Everlasting Absinthe Verte by J. Carver Distillery


Pour the first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a coupe glass. Put absinthe in a small spritz bottle and mist the cocktail with a few quick sprays. (Alternatively, wash the glass with a few drops of absinthe before pouring the cocktail.)

Spirits Close-Up: Barrel Gin


Spirits Close-Up: Barrel Gin

September 24, 2018 by John Garland

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Spirits Close-Up: Barrel Gin

The walls are crumbling. The boundless creativity of the craft movement has ensured that spirits are becoming less and less boxed into the stylistic traditions that once defined them.

On our shelves now, we’re treated to products like “aged vodka,” and beer-barrel-aged whiskey, and gins with every botanical under the sun. Spirits are being blended with new precision, aged with radical techniques, flavored by infusions or extractions, and finished in flavored casks. Everything old is new again.

No spirit blurs the old lines quite like barrel gin. It begins with a spirit—gin—known for its crisp botanical array and for the lithe and sprightly way it shows the woodsy tang of juniper berries. Then, that spirit is rested briefly in oak barrels—not for as long as whiskey, maybe just a few weeks or months—a process known to diffuse the aromatics of a spirit and replace them with an all-consuming base note of vanilla and toast and tannin.

But why take perfectly good gin and make it an herbal half-whiskey? As a lover of traditional London Dry-style gins, it’s taken me awhile to come around, but I think I have an answer: It’s all about the bass.

Gin is usually all about the top notes: citrus, herbs, spices, and flowers, the delicate flavors that dance on the forefront of a cocktail. That’s the reason gin drinks are more refreshing than substantial. If you don’t want gin-drinking season to peter out after Labor Day, a barrel gin is a superior mixer. That touch of oak gives it the ability to incorporate deeper, richer flavors, and makes gin drinks taste hardy and autumnal.

I think it’s a mistake to mix barrel gin like a whiskey. (Don’t be fooled by the color: it’s still gin, and I will never come around on the idea of a gin old fashioned.) Instead, I’ll use it to add some muscle to a Tom Collins, or unexpected depth to a Bee’s Knees. It makes the most soulful Negroni you’ve ever had.

Locally, I’m partial to J. Carver’s Barrel Gin. Nationally, St. George Spirits makes a beautiful rested gin with rye. For a gin with even more malt and oak character, find a traditional Dutch genever.

Runestone Straight Rye Gold Medal Winner

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"The Fifty Best" Runestone Straight Rye Gold Medal Winner


-- The Fifty Best Holds a Rye Whiskey Tasting --

New York, NY, (September 25, 2017) – The Fifty Best, rating the finest in wines and spirits, has once again turned its spotlight on American-made rye whiskey.  The Fifty Best recently hosted a Rye Whiskey Tasting, where 25 contenders were evaluated for the distinguished “Best Rye” awards for 2017.

The Fifty Best is very pleased to announce that Runestone Straight Rye Whiskey was awarded a Gold medal.


Runestone Straight Rye Whiskey
(J. Carver Distillery, Waconia, MN) 80° proof

Nose: Butterscotch, treacle, creamy, buttery, cocoa, vanilla, honey, banana, Juicy Fruit chewing gum, grains, nutty, cashews, Popsicle stick, herbal, vegetal, grassy.
Palate: Nougat, chocolate, creamy, sweet churned butter, honey, apple, grape, orange, sweet honeysuckle, corn, nutty, rye, clove, herbal, spicy, oak, smooth, silky.
Finish: Peach, melon, dried fruit, bay leaf, rye, straw, smooth, well-balanced.

Using professional criteria, the pre-qualified panel of judges blind-tasted the rye whiskies and rated them individually on a 1-5 point scoring system with 5 being the best. After tallying the scores, medals were awarded based on the judges' impressions.

The complete ranking results, along with tasting notes, are published on TheFiftyBest.com:

TheFiftyBest.com is an digital guide to wines & spirits, featuring rated listings from proprietary blind tastings judged by wine/spirits journalists, spirits professionals, retailers, mixologists, spirits consultants and connoisseurs. The Fifty Best achieves the highest standards of spirits evaluations by adhering to strict tasting rules and rigorous methodology.

J. Carver rolls out Brickyard Bourbon, Runestone Rye, and Island View Brandy

J. Carver rolls out Brickyard Bourbon, Runestone Rye, and Island View Brandy

J. Carver Distillery has announced the introduction of three handcrafted spirits, Brickyard Straight Bourbon, Runestone Straight Rye, and Island View Brandy. Each was distilled and aged in Minnesota barrels at the distillery’s grain-to-glass facility in Waconia.

Distillery rolls out 2 new grain-to-glass spirits

Distillery rolls out 2 new grain-to-glass spirits

 Today, J. Carver Distillery celebrates its third year of distilling by announcing the introduction of two new handcrafted spirits, Sevilla, a whiskey-based liqueur, and Hunt Club Double Barrel Rye Whiskey. Both products were distilled grain-to-glass and aged in our barrel room at our facility in Waconia, Minnesota, located 30 miles southwest of Minneapolis.



Drink locally with these seven standout craft whiskeys. 

The farm-to-table movement in high-end restaurants may be old hat by now, but its corollary in craft spirits is just getting started. 

“Barn-to-bottle” whiskeys well worth sipping are springing up across the country, from New England to the High West. (Check out seven of our favorites in the slideshow HERE.)

Minnesota Bourbon: J. Carver turns local corn to liquid gold

Minnesota Bourbon: J. Carver turns local corn to liquid gold

Now J. Carver of Waconia is releasing a bourbon to the market, made entirely with Minnesota-grown ingredients. After 14-plus months inside oak barrels (also made in Minnesota), Batch No. 1 of J. Carver bourbon whiskey is ready.

J. Carver Distillery to release Rye Whiskey and Apple Brandy

J. Carver Distillery to release Rye Whiskey and Apple Brandy

J. Carver Distillery has announced via press release the debut of an aged rye whiskey and Calvados-style apple brandy due out this week.




Some of the best vodka and gin available is made at J. Carver Distillery, located just a short drive from the Twin Cities. Jason Newell, our manager of Wines & Spirits in Chanhassen, takes us on a tour of their facilities:

Local Drinks Cool Down Summer

Local Drinks Cool Down Summer

Whether area residents or visiting guests need to cool off or cool their heels, local establishments offer plenty of refreshing beverage options to make summer less about venturing away from home and more about staying local. Partake in some homegrown specialty concoctions, many of them made with ingredients from just down the road.



J. Carver Distillery recently unleashed a “barrel-rested” gin (less time than “barrel-aged”) and the oak-kissed spirit thankfully retains its botanical brightness. “The delicacy of the gin is what we don’t want to lose by leaving it in too long,” said distiller Matt Miller.

J. Carver Distillery launches ultra premium spirits and the first barrel gin distilled in Minnesota: J. Carver Barrel Gin.

J. Carver Distillery launches ultra premium spirits and the first barrel gin distilled in Minnesota: J. Carver Barrel Gin.

J. Carver Distillery announces the introduction of a trio of grain-to-glass, handcrafted, small batch spirits: Lake House Ultra-Premium Vodka, Grimm Farm Ultra-Premium Gin, and the first barrel gin distilled in Minnesota: J. Carver Barrel Gin.