Minnesota’s Original Distillery Just One Hour from St. Cloud
In need of an adult day trip free from the kids? Plan a visit to Minnesota's original distillery in Osakis!
My wife grew up in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Her family lives there still. Every couple months or so we make a trip up to visit, and every time we pass a sign just before Osakis for Panther Distillery. Now, my wife and I are both craft beer enthusiasts. But we also have an appreciation for hard liquors and spirits, and I'm always tempted to pull off and take exit 114 into Osakis to visit the distillery. In fact, I nearly did this past weekend as we drove up to Fergus for a belated Christmas celebration; unfortunately for me, my wife is doing a Dry January, and I didn't want to tempt her or ruin her successful track record so far. So, I kept driving. Still, curious to know more -- and whether or not I could find Panther's liquor in local liquor stores -- I began doing some research.
At its website, Panther Distilling hails itself as "Minnesota's Original Distillery," Minnesota's first legal whiskey distillery. Panther Distilling was established in 2011 under the leadership of owner Adrian Panther. He was joined by Brett Grinager as head distiller. Together, they chose to set up their distillery where they were -- in the heart of pristine lake country in the Land of 10,000. While some people believe aging spirits are best kept under controlled conditions, Grinager and Panther embrace the four seasons and temperature swings of Minnesota. Further embracing the Minnesota culture, all the grain used in Panther Distillery's whiskey comes from within 30 miles of the distillery -- adding a deserved sense of local pride and support.
Panther Distillery's distilling site and gift shop are located in Osakis and offers samples and free tours daily Monday through Saturday. If you've got some additional time during your day out, you might also drive around Osakis to see the grain elevator used for milling grain and creamery which is used for offices and bottling (neither are available for tours, but you can drive by to get an idea of the full operation).
Panther Distillery's products include their Minnesota 14 Whiskey, maple and honey variations of the Minnesota 14 Whiskey, Spiked Apple Spirits Whiskey, St. Paul Straight Bourbon and Ordeal Bourbon. They also have another "mystery product" that -- due to trademark laws -- they're not able to display at the website but you can find in liquor stores!
Panther Distillery spirits have won a number of accolades over the past decade, including medals at the American Craft Spirit Association, Denver International Spirits Competition, Heartland Spirits Competition, and San Francisco Worlds Spirits Competition. The distillery's website even includes a bunch of cocktail recipes for drinks like iced whiskey coffee, Minnesota Lemonade, Minnesota Mule, New Fashioned, Hot Toddy and more!