Micro-distillery's future rides on a relic

Dennis Downing with the 'new' equipment.
Q: How do you increase your distillery output by 1,000%?

A: Fire up a still that hasn't been in operation for about six decades.

That's the outlook at the Artisan Spirits division of the New Holland Brewing Company in Holland Township, MI.

There, distilling operations manager Dennis Downing is working to bring online an 80-year-old, 800-gallon still built in the waning days of Prohibition.

"I’m still learning how to use her," Downing told a reporter. "The still had been mothballed for 60 years, and there wasn’t any operating manual in the paperwork we got."

The company bought the contraption five years ago off the Internet. It was built by Columbia Copper Works of Patterson, NJ, and installed in a barn on a New Jersey fruit farm to make applejack.

The American Distilling Institute ranks New Holland Artisan Spirits as the No. 1 distiller in Michigan and among the top 20 micro-distillers in the country.

MLive.com has a good story on the project. You can access it here.

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