Northern Latitudes Distillery in Lake Leelanau is known for their signature craft spirits and cocktails. Their newest mainstay product, Whaleback Spiced Rum, is being released on Wednesday, December 30. The pair behind the artisanal Northern Michigan drink is owners Mark and Mandy Moseler. To get in the spirit, we talked with Mark about the big release.
How does the Whaleback Spiced Rum differ from your Manitou Passage Rum?
“I used the Manitou Passage as a base for it, so the initial process of making it is the same with the blackstrap molasses and fermentation. One of the main differences is we’re bottling it 100 proof. There are a couple of reasons for that. With the spices and botanicals, it has a lot of flavors. The vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves mellow the spirit substantially, so at 100 proof it doesn’t taste like 100 proof.”
The spices make it a perfect drink for colder weather. Is that why you chose to release it at this time of year?
“Yes, and I’m a one-man-band around here. This will be the fourth product I’ve released this year. It’s been in the wings, but I try not to release things all at once. The idea of having spices in it fit with the cooler season.”
Why did you choose to name it after the Whaleback?
“The Whaleback bluff is an icon in Leelanau County, and it fits with rum and a nautical theme.”
Is this a seasonal product or will it be a mainstay?
“This is one we’ll always keep in stock. There won’t be a lot more of those that I do this winter, but this has always been one in the back of my mind that I’ve wanted to have as far as a spiced rum. A lot of the other ones I’m coming up with right now will be seasonal.”
How do you like to drink it?
“You can drink it straight because it’s mellow, but spiced rums aren’t necessarily sipping rums. They’re made to be mixed. It’s kind of a bastardization to say a rum and coke, but it is phenomenal in a rum and coke. We’re making Mai Tai’s with it, and we do our version of a Dark ‘n’ Stormy here as well. Any of those classic rum cocktails it works very nicely with.”
What are you working on next?
“I’m kind of dialing it in right now, but it’s my saskatoon berry liqueur. It’s one of the new superfruits, and they’re starting to do cultivations right now on the Leelanau Peninsula and in the Grand Traverse Area. It looks just like a blueberry, but it’s from the apple family so it has a completely different flavor and texture. There’s a guy in Canda doing something with it, but nobody in the U.S. is doing anything with saskatoon berries.”
Do you have an expected release date for that?
“I really don’t. It’s one of those where I have the formula down, but I always tweak it just a little bit at the end. My hope would be in the next month or so.”
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