MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Jon Kreidler used to be a finance guy; now, he makes booze.

“I’ve spent the past 15 years of my career analyzing other businesses, and critiquing other people on how their ran their businesses, so I thought it was time to do it myself.”

Kreidler opened Tattersall Distillery in northeast Minneapolis in July 2015 with Dan Oskey, whom he first met when they were second-grade classmates. Many of the rest of us know Oskey as half of the eponymous “Easy & Oskey Bitters,” or from tending bar at Twin Cities establishments such as Strip Club Meat & Fish in St. Paul.

When I wondered aloud if the Twin Cities would support another craft distillery, Kreidler answered with an unequivocal “yes.”

“The spirits industry is so large and so dominated by a handful of players,” he said. “So for the craft guys … you don’t have to take out another craft guy. You just have to get a tiny sliver of the bigger pie.”

Both agree that a key to survival is offering a unique product. Part of what makes Tattersall unique is their focus not only on the basics – like the whiskey, gin and vodka they make – but on small-batch spirits and liqueurs that may never leave the building.

“The cocktail room really is the epicenter of this thing,” says Oskey, “and so we want to keep it interesting.”

Kreidler echoed the sentiment, pointing out a small 50-gallon still that is designed with experimentation in mind; such as a pineapple-derived spirit they’re currently working on

“We’ll kind of use the cocktail room as our test kitchen,” he said.  “We’re not distributing everything; we’ll see what the market likes, what the public likes, what we want to distribute [and] what we don’t.”

Open and airy, a chandelier now flies over the sleek, industrial cocktail room, which belies nothing of its past; during World War II, it was a forbidden and highly secretive manufacturing facility for the Norden Bomb Sight.

Behind a large glass divider, in full view, is where distillery manager Bentley Gillman helps to set Tattersall apart — making one of the largest craft product lines I’ve ever seen.

“[It’s] probably about a two-week lead time for the vodka” from the time the grain comes into the building to the time it’s bottled as a spirit, Gillman said.

The day I was at the distillery, Gillman was in the midst of producing vodka. I was able to sample the product about halfway through the distilling process, before it was fully distilled and filtered.

Smelling of corn and tasting earthy, Gillman told me “essentially, this is white whiskey that you’re looking at right here.”

“You can make vodka out of just about anything,” Kreidler said. “Though, if you’re going to make it out of corn, it just adds a sweetness to it that a lot of other grains don’t have.”

Eventually, feedback gathered from patrons who visit the cocktail room (as well as Tattersall’s employees) will be used to tweak product flavors and determine what gets released to the public through distribution in liquor stores. For now five of the company’s eight products are only available in cocktails mixed up in their cocktail room.

We’ll visit that, and share some recipes, next week.

Tattersall Distilling hosts public tours of the distillery operation on Saturdays, and features a cocktail room that is open to the public on Wednesdays through Saturdays.

For more information, visit their website.

 

Mike Augustyniak

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