Valentine Distilling Co. Produces First-Class Spirits in Metro Detroit

By: Toni Cunningham | May 9, 2013
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Rifino Valentine, owner of Valentine Distilling Co. in Ferndale, doesn’t want you to drink his spirits because they’re local. He wants you to drink them because they’re better than anything else out there.

Since launching in 2009, Valentine Distilling Co. has distributed solely vodka, but after two years of developing the perfect blend of ingredients, it now produces gin and whiskey as well.

Valentine’s Liberator Gin just won Best of Category and Best of Class from the American Distilling Institute, the largest and most prominent spirits competition in the U.S.

“This win was particularly special because it was judged by other distillers and industry winners from around the world,” Valentine said. “To not only be selected as category winner, but then as best of all the gins, it really means that the Liberator is something special.”

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The Liberator pays homage to Detroit, as it was named after the B-24 Liberators built at Willow Run during World War II. Valentine said gin has always been in his business plan, but he wanted to perfect his vodka before moving onto anything else.

“It seems that most gins just want to smack you in the face with juniper and then the flavor ends,” Valentine said. “With the Liberator, I wanted to soften the nose of juniper and then extend the flavor with coriander and cardamom and then gently finish with cinnamon.”

Unlike most gins on the market, the Liberator is one of few you can enjoy simply on the rocks. Valentine also recommends using it in a classic gin and tonic, or paired with grapefruit.

Valentine Distilling Co. prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients, and one of the biggest reasons Valentine returned to Michigan was to bring manufacturing back to Detroit.

“With manufacturing, it’s not only the direct workers that make an economic impact, but the entire supply chain. That’s why we are fully devoted to sourcing everything that (we) use as closely as we can. Also, Michigan is home to some of the best quality raw ingredients and suppliers in the country,” Valentine said.

Liberator gin is available all across Michigan and Illinois in bars, restaurants and liquor stores. After he completed the perfect gin, Valentine moved on to creating a bottle bourbon whiskey, which has been aging in new American Oak barrels for four years. Woodward Limited whiskey is now available all across Michigan and Illinois as well.

In case you’re not convinced you want to abandon your beloved Absolut just yet, Valentine Vodka received a 94-point rating by Anthony Dias Blue (of The Tasting Panel magazine), a higher rating than Grey Goose, Belvedere or Ketel One.

“It once again underlines what we set out to do years ago: make products that not only compete, but win on an international level,” Valentine said of the Liberator. “We want to put Detroit on the map for not only producing world class autos, but world class spirits as well.”

For more on Valentine Distilling Co. and its spirits, visit