Great Lakes Distillery, the state's first distillery to open since Prohibition, is also pioneering the new, uncharted waters of bottled in bond gin, creating what appears to be the world's first example.
Rehorst's bottled in bond gin, aged four years in oak casks and bottled at 100 proof, will launch on July 10, in the Walker's Point tasting room and around Wisconsin.
The release appears to be the first bottled in bond gin in the world.
The 1897 federal Bottled in Bond act set standards for age and quality that were meant to protect bourbon and rye whiskey, which until that point could be – and were – adulterated with all manner of other ingredients.
The bottled in bond rules now stipulate that a spirit must be distilled at a single distillery in a single season, aged for at least four years and bottled at 100 proof.
A May update to federal regulations and definitions, says founder Guy Rehorst, has been a fortuitous one for Great Lakes, which already had its gin aging in barrels.
Previously, gin could only be bottled in bond if it was stored in non-reactive wood containers, such as barrels lined with paraffin.
"It's something I don't believe anyone did," says marketing director Ross Salchow of the idea of non-reactive barrel-aging. "The new laws states that gin placed in reactive wood can be both 'aged' and 'bottled in bond' as opposed to words like 'rested' or 'oaked' to describe the process of resting in reactive barrels."
Rehorst adds, "With the increase of craft distillery innovation and consumers’ evolving taste, the federal government periodically needs to update the standards and definitions.
"Aging gin in a barrel has become quite popular, and the government responded by updating the laws to better define it."
As luck would have it, when the rules changed, Great Lakes was ready to go.
"When we laid down the gin over four years ago, we had no idea it would turn into this, we just tucked the barrels away to see what long aging would do," says head distiller Nate Newbrough.
Those years in the barrel have added qualities that one associates more with whiskey than gin – vanilla, charred oak, cinnamon – alongside the more familiar notes of juniper and other botanicals, including the sweet basil hint that distinguishes Great Lakes' gin, says Salchow.
"It’s aged like whiskey, it has flavors found in whiskey," he says. "People who enjoy gin or whiskey will certainly enjoy this product."
For more information, visit greatlakesdistillery.com.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.