Distilleries target Milwaukee market

Two distilleries are coming onto the Milwaukee scene in the coming months.

Central Standard Craft Distillery plans to open in Walker’s Point in March, in a 1,600-square-foot space Milwaukee Brewing Company was using for storage, at 613 S. Second St.

Evan Hughes, Brandt Foster and Pat McQuiallan have partnered to form the business, which will make vodka, gin and whiskey. It will likely offer unaged white whiskey at first and later, whiskey aged in American white oak barrels, Hughes said.

“Walker’s Point as a whole, there’s so many great artisan businesses going in or are down there,” Hughes said. “The neighborhood I think really fits the vibe of what we want the distillery to be—very handcrafted and artisan.”

Brian Blazel, currently assistant brewmaster at Milwaukee Brewing Co., will be the head distiller at Central Standard.

The distillery received a $150,000 Milwaukee Economic Development Corp. loan and raised $750,000 in private funds.
The company is in the process of remodeling its space.

“There’s going to be a room for the still, we’ll be putting in a tasting room bar, some retail space as well as prettying it up a little bit,” Hughes said. “We’re going to keep it relatively industrial with a few more finishes.”

Central Standard will be in the same neighborhood as Milwaukee’s other craft distillery, Great Lakes Distillery at 616 W. Virginia St. Great Lakes founder Guy Rehorst has been supportive, and Hughes expects having the two distilleries in close proximity will be mutually beneficial.

“It’s definitely our goal for this to be a source of pride and for locals to enjoy and we’re really excited about being part of the business community in Milwaukee,” he said.

And Carlsville-based Door County Distillery, held a tasting last week in Milwaukee to rebrand some of its spirits, which are aimed at female young professionals.

About 200 members of the Milwaukee WGIRLS Inc. chapter tasted vodka, cherry-infused vodka and gin for the distiller, which wanted to gauge the reaction in one of its most important markets, said Andy Larsen, partner at Boelter + Lincoln Marketing Communications in Milwaukee.

Boelter + Lincoln is leading the rebranding effort.

“It was a great opportunity for us to get in front of a fairly large group of people who would be in that female professional 25 to 40 demographic and get their feedback,” Larsen said. “The game plan is that the launch will take place somewhere in the first or second quarter of 2014.”

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