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Made in Michigan

ValentineDistillingRifino_credit-to-brian-doben.jpgRifino Valentine’s mission is to produce the highest quality spirits on a small scale that are made and bottled by hand and are still capable of competing with international spirits. “I have a simple philosophy: everything that I do must be done with quality in mind above all else, the way it was meant to be done. I’ve always appreciated the American craftsman; working by hand, making one of kind items that stand the test of time. In distillation, this means selecting the best ingredients, distilling in small batches, and taking care in every single step of the process. I take great pride in using old world techniques, techniques that haven’t changed in centuries. There are no computers controlling the stills, just my sense of taste and smell to determine the cuts.”

Why spirits? The idea of starting a distillery occurred about 10 years ago. As a young trader on Wall Street, Rifino loved his dirty martinis. “I would tell bartenders give me your best dirty,” he says. He noticed the vodka was always imported. “Why can’t we make world-class vodka in the U.S.?” he wondered. He moved to Michigan to learn about artisan distilling at Michigan State University. MSU is the only public university in the country to runs an artisan distillery program.

With only a dozen or so micro-distilleries in the country in 2007 (now there are over 400), Valentine opened his Detroit-based, artisan distilling company Valentine Distilling Co. (the area’s first since Prohibition). With all of the news surrounding Detroit and its bankruptcy, the Motor City was a natural choice for Valentine. After all, Detroit is a poster child for U.S. manufacturing. The first bottle of vodka went into distribution in February 2008. Since then, his spirits have won awards all over the world. The Valentine Distilling Co. Vodka was just named the World’s Best Vodka at the 2016 World Vodka Awards in London.

Valentine Distilling Co. Vodka (80 proof)
Valentine Distilling Co. ‘White Blossom’ Elderflower Vodka (80 proof)
Valentine Distilling Co. Liberator Gin (84 proof)
Valentine Distilling Co. Liberator Old Tom Gin (108.4 proof)
Valentine Distilling Co. Mayor Pingree Bourbon, Michigan (90 proof)

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