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National Vodka Day: Valentine Distilling Co.

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Over on Lake Eerie, Valentine Distilling Co. wants to talk to you about water. This past April, the Michigan distillery announced their 10-year sustainability initiative, beginning with a large scale water reclamation project. During the late spring, Valentine completed an installation that will re-claim up to 98% of water used during production. With five liters of water for every one liter of vodka, this new investment is saving up to 2,000 gallons a day, amounting to just under 5 million gallons a year. It doesn’t stop here - through their Farm to Bottle to Farm program, Valentine gives all of their spent grain to local farmers to use as cattle feed. LED lighting has replaced all incandescents in the distillery, and future plans include solar and wind power for the facility and cocktail lounge.

Valentine owner and Michigan-native Rifino Valentine believes that this investment in product, community, and future sustainability are critical steps in his fight against mass-produced spirits. As a young trader on Wall Street in the early 2000s, Rifino saw how beholden corporate America was to turning profits in the fastest and cheapest way possible. A dirty martini drinker himself, it was during this period that Rifino began to notice of all the import labels on the top shelf. Filled with additives such as Glycerin, Citric Acid & Limoene as the cheap and easy way for body and mouth feel, the mass produced stuff from the States just wasn’t cutting it. Where was the high-quality, hand crafted American vodka?

This quest for great domestic product inspired Rifino to study distilling at Michigan State University. With micro-distilleries just catching on, Rifino seized on the opportunity to actualize his vision for an additive free, artisan distillery. In the midst of Detroit’s bankruptcy, where better suited for a renaissance with hand crafted American manufacturing than Motor City? Valentine opened Valentine Distilling Co. in 2007 as the antidote for the city’s decline and as a fight back against mass-produced spirits, and the first bottle hit the market in 2008. Quality grain, copper stills and dedicated distillers remain fundamental pillars for Valentine’s small batch spirits, and today, there are hundreds of artisan distillers across the country following their model and reclaiming quality in American spirit production. Valentine’s transparency in sustainability is another example of Valentine’s progressive leadership in the spirits industry. At a company that stands for responsibility in craft, Rifino believes that an investment in sustainability is not only a natural step, but a critical move, and we are excited to see the actualization of their initiative over the following decade.

“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.” - Rifino Valentine



Vodka Berry Bramble Swizzle
2 oz Valentine Vodka
3⁄4 oz Lemon Juice
1⁄2 oz Simple Syrup
Fresh Raspberries, Blackberries, Myrtle Berries (Go Nuts!)
Float of Lucien Jacob Crème de Cassis

Directions:
1. Muddle lemon juice, simple syrup and berries in a tumbler
2. Add vodka and ice, shake
3. Strain over crushed ice
4. Float Lucien Jacob Creme de Cassis
5. Garnish with a mint and more berries

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