Out in Waconia, there are some interesting, creative things happening in the world of spirits–as in, the alcohol-based type of spirits. J. Carver Distillery, founded by brothers Matt and Bill Miller, is named after Jonathan Carver, pioneer and settler in the area (and for whom Carver County and the town of Jonathan were named). The Millers wanted to honor Carver’s adventurous spirit, and so they have, creating a wide-ranging menu of spirits, from bourbon and rye to gin and vodka to liqueurs and grappa.

You can find the J. Carver products in various liquor stores, or you can learn more about them by taking a distillery tour, currently offered Fridays and Saturdays (make a reservation here). The tour is definitely worth the time (and the $10 admission fee); while the distillery isn’t large, it’s fun to see the workings behind the liquid magic.

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Photo by Amy Rea

On a recent visit, co-founder Bill Miller explained the various machinery and how different types of spirits require different techniques and stills. Everything here is done in small batches, and the company likes to leave room for experimentation.

Photo by Amy Rea

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There are a tantalizing number of different-sized barrels aging various spirits. The distillery recently released its first brandy (in limited release), aged two years. The business focuses on locally sourced products as much as possible in creating their libations.

Photo by Amy Rea

What’s a distillery without a bar? There’s a cocktail menu that showcases the distillery’s premium offerings, or you can try a sample tray.

Tour participants get one of these trays included in their registration fee, and of course you’re welcome to purchase more.

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Waconia is just a little over half an hour west of the metro, and it’s a pretty drive. Make a day of it, and support your local distillery.