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It can be hard to find fun things to do this time of year. It’s not quite warm enough to do stuff outside and there isn’t snow to do the typical winter activities. That leaves movies, board games or drinking.
If you’re going to drink, why not do it at a place as unique and fresh as J Carver Distillery in Waconia? They are making a point to do things differently and making an impact on their community.
Tony and I went there over the weekend, and although we had been there before, we gained new appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes by doing a tour.
As a small and relatively new business, they don’t have the luxury of a huge marketing budget so they invest in tours. Guests can visit for $10 and get a tour of the facility and learn about what goes into making the J Carver spirits. At the end, they get to taste their creations in a flight. These tours are meant as marketing to covert people into regular customers who will buy their liquor around local grocery stores.
I won’t get into the technicals of how they take wheat and yeast and turn it into delicious drinks- you’ll need to go to the tour for that.
However, I will tell you that they are known for their single pass vodka that is unlike anything else being made in the state. It is passed through these unique columns show below. J Carver is currently one of the only distilleries in the state to use this unique method to make their vodka.
They say you can drink it straight and I’m sure a lot of people could and really enjoy it. Personally, I am a lightweight and can’t drink straight alcohol, but it definitely tastes good in cocktails.
This single pass vodka doesn’t burn and it’s not harsh, and funnily enough, some people don’t like it because of that. It tastes different than what they’re used to.
During the tour though, Bill made the good point that most people turned up their nose at craft beer at first too because it didn’t taste like Budweiser, but now breweries are in most towns.
They also make four different kinds of gin- one for people who don’t like gin, one for cocktails that’s aged in a whiskey barrel and used at places around the cities at places like Spoon and Stable and the Marvel Bar, one for drinking straight and a traditional one to be used in gin and tonics.
Everything that goes into making the liquor at J Carver is local. There are 3 wineries in Waconia where they get items like Marquette and Syrah for the Grappa. Don’t know what Grappa is? Neither did I! This site has the cliff notes…
The wheat they use is from southern Minnesota and the apples for the apple brandy are from the U of M. The barreling that takes place in American White Oak is done in the next town over in Watertown. The bottling is done by the distillers and their families. The teenagers love helping out with this part of the family business.
J Carver is definitely the place to go if you’re adventurous and want to try something new. Just don’t be taken aback when things don’t taste like you think they will. Give it some time to adjust and appreciate the craftmanship that goes into their products. And seriously get some cocktails. The Minnesota Mule and Cosmo are delicious!
Just keep in mind the tasting room hours are limited to Fridays and Saturdays. You can learn more on J Carver’s website here.
Do you have a favorite place like this where you love hanging out? Consider going somewhere like this to take your engagement photos. Get more ideas for unique adventure sessions here-