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CENTRAL MN MADE: Osakis Distillery Makes MN’s First Legal Whiskey [AUDIO]

OSAKIS – Minnesota has a long, storied history when it comes to liquor. In fact, during  prohibition, the tiny town of Holdingford was considered the unofficial moonshine capital of Minnesota.

Now, generations later, an Osakis business is channeling Minnesota’s deep bootlegging roots – though, legally this time around.

Panther Distillery is the latest of our “Made in Central Minnesota” featured businesses. The whiskey maker opened its doors in July of this year after a three year planning process.

Brett Grinager is Panther’s master distiller. He says making whiskey in an area with such a strong legacy related to the craft makes his job especially fun.

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Grinager is a student of history when it comes to distilling. He says one of the reasons he’s so proud to offer Minnesota-made whiskey is because the legacy of bootlegging and moonshining in central Minnesota was, at one time, known around the world.

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Grinager says the whiskey starts as mash, which ferments for 6 days before being placed into a 500 gallon still. All told, 500 gallons of mash results in 50 gallons of whiskey. One source of pride for Panther is the fact that everything -  ingredients to whiskey barrels – are made locally.

Grinager says their employee base is small  – 3 full time, 3 part time – but that hasn’t affected how many visitors they’ve been able to host. They’ve had around 5,000 tourists from all over the US and Canada walk through their doors in less than 6 months.

While Panther is extremely busy getting their product ready for market next year, Grinager insists getting to share the art of whiskey making with these curious visitors is one of the best parts of his job.

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Clearly it’s legal for Panther to MAKE their whiskey for bottling, but they’re not able to offer it for tasting at the distillery due to Minnesota law. Grinager says he’s hoping that will change in the near future.

Panther Distillery welcomes walk-in visitors every day. To learn about hours and location – and see some photos – visit their website.

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