The best part of exploring cities and towns across Michigan is soaking up the local libations. Beer, wine, liquor, cider, and everything in between, the fruits of fermentation are abundant in our great state. If you don’t live under a rock, you know that Grand Rapids is the holy grail for beer in Michigan, but did you know that distilleries are surging to the forefront of the city’s appeal?
One of the distilleries soaring to the top of the Grand Rapids distillery scene is Gray Skies Distillery, discretely located in the industrial area just north of downtown. It occupies a building that has been a wheel service company and machine shop in the past, but now houses the distilling operation and an expansive bar/tasting room. The space is sleek and minimalistic with touches of mid-century modern design, evident in the signage and seating options.
Now, let’s get down to the important stuff: the booze! Gray Skies offers a stellar lineup of spirits made from grains and malt sourced from Michigan farmers. If there’s any doubt that they’re committed being a local company, you don’t have to look further than their motto: good hooch made local.
Gray Skies will take you to the stratosphere with their utilitarian vodka, two types of rum, apple brandy, hopped gin, coffee liqueur, and single malt whiskey. We had the pleasure of “taste testing” these spirits in a few different cocktails and found two that took us to cloud nine: Michigan Single Malt Whiskey and Coffee Liqueur.
The Michigan Single Malt Whiskey, as you may expect, is made with 100% malted barley grown in Michigan. You haven’t tasted a whiskey like this before. The signature peanut butter toasted malt from Pilot Malt House provides a unique flavor profile. Notes of cocoa can be detected, creating a whiskey worth seeking out.
After one sip of the Coffee Liqueur, we had to remind ourselves that it contained alcohol. Its rich, robust flavor is accomplished using locally roasted coffee beans. We recommend picking up a bottle and using it in your favorite coffee-based cocktails.
While Gray Skies spirits can be found predominantly in the Grand Rapids area, there are a few retailers in the metro Detroit area carrying their products. We anticipate that the buzz and word-of-mouth will propel broader distribution across the state. Whether Gray Skies spirits are available in your city or not, a visit to the distillery should be added to your Michigan bucket list.
Gray Skies Distillery is located at 700 Ottawa Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.