The latest in a wave of new Northeast distilleries is now open
Like the spirits she’s now producing, Michelle Winchester’s Twin Sprits Distillery has required a lot of planning, experimentation and patience. Now, after a couple years of work, it’s all paid off, as the full distillery, complete with a cocktail room, is now open in the Audubon Park neighborhood in Northeast Minneapolis.
Twin Spirits is a passion project of Winchester, who launched the effort two years ago with the mission of opening her own distillery. She found a home for her dream — the first one-woman owned distillery in Minnesota — in a 1927 building near Central & 29th where Winchester has been tinkering away to produce her flagship spirits ever since. Updates to the previously boarded-up building delayed her business for several seasons, a process that took an “unfathomable” amount of time, Winchester said last year.
The roughly 1,600-square-foot distillery and cocktail room, with a capacity for about 30 guests, opened in late February at 2931 Central Ave. NE, though it has welcomed curious minds for small tours and tastings for several months.
Winchester has her flagship M Vodka, which is made from raw sugar cane and yeast, and M Gin, made with the same ferment as the vodka, available at the bar. There’s also the Claro Vodka, which Winchesters produces by putting her vodka through an additional active charcoal filtration, an additional three or four-hour process that results in a different flavor profile.
She’ll soon begin to serve her 90-proof Mamma’s Moonshine, which is made from mead, or honey wine, that ferments for four to six weeks and is distilled monthly during the full moon. Winchester has experimented making with muddling fruit into the sweet moonshine and warming it up for a twist on a hot toddy.
Then there’s the M Whiskey and M Rum, which are both in the works. Based on a Minnesota-grown rye, the whiskey will be aged in American white oak barrels. Winchester plans to age the rum, which utilizes sugar cane molasses, in bourbon barrels. She distills the spirits with custom copper stills from HBS Copper in Barlow, Kentucky.
The gin and vodka are available in the cocktail room in 375ml bottles. Guests can purchase one bottle per day. Larger 750ml bottles are on shelves at local liquor stores, such as Surdyk’s Liquor & Cheese Shop and South Lyndale Liquors.
Twin Spirits’ cocktail menu is mix of drinks from Winchester and Miki Mosman, a mixologist and bartender at Café Maude. There’s the Lavender Honey Bee, a cocktail that mixes the M Gin with lemon juice, lavender essence and honey. The Ruckus Rosemary pairs M Vodka with lime juice, rosemary simple syrup and club soda. Winchester, a fan of Moscow mules, and her husband have thought up the alternatively named Flynn Mule, named for the former national security adviser, which combines the M Vodka with lime juice and ginger beer.
“I’m kind of a goofy person,” she laughed.
To get a taste of all of Winchester’s work, guests can also order a flight.
For fans of Twin Spirits, the cocktail room is just the beginning of what could end up as a multi-building complex with outdoor gardens. Winchester will have plenty of patio space this spring and she has a lot in store for the neighboring building, which she owns.
Winchester said she hopes to gut the 4,700-square-foot warehouse and build out a storage space, an aging room, a full kitchen and a much bigger cocktail room. Once that opens, she could then use her original facility as a private event space or a place to host classes. Work on the second building could begin as early as this fall, she added.
Twin Spirits is the latest distillery to open in Northeast Minneapolis following a 2014 bill that allowed distilleries to sell and serve their products on-site like breweries. The area is now home to several micro-distilleries, such as Tattersall Distilling Co. in the Thorp Building and Wander North Distillery and Norseman Distillery — the city’s first micro-distillery — in the Mid-City Industrial neighborhood.
Twin Sprits is open 3 p.m.–10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Winchester hosts tours by reservation on Thursdays from 4 p.m.–6 p.m. and Saturdays from 3 p.m.–5 p.m.