🔒 Michigan’s Ethanolo¿y Distillation only distillery in the state to produce spirit made of honey

Ethanolo¿y ​Spirit House & Distillery (Ethanolo¿y ​Spirit House & Distillery)

ELK RAPIDS, Mich. – There’s a distillery tucked away in Northern Michigan that makes a one-of-a-kind spirit -- and it should be on your radar.

Ethanolo¿y Distillation, owned by Nick and Geri LeFebre, is located in Elk Rapids, about 20 minutes northwest of downtown Traverse City.

The grain-to-glass distillery has raw materials sourced within a 33-mile radius of their distilling facility. According to Nick, the company’s focused on making hyperlocal and ultra-premium products.

Ethanolo¿y Distillation opened up in 2017 but started the distilling process in 2014. The Elk Rapids distillery started producing vodka. From there, they released Mel, a spirit distilled from honey.

The honey is pollinated from local cherry blossoms grown in Antrim, Leelanau and Grand Traverse County -- where this region produces 45% of the world’s supply of tart cherries.

Some of the other Michigan companies used to make the products are Bear Earth Herbals, Cherry Ke Inc, Shooks Farm and Valley View Farm.

“It’s been a long, arduous journey. Whether it was licensing, finishing the tasting room, or getting products to market.” said Nick. Geri, Nick’s wife, is the mastermind behind the products. She is the only head distiller at Ethnology and is 100% self-taught. Geri is also the first woman to become a head distiller in the state of Michigan. The distiller is responsible for the end-to-end quality of the product and the process behind each developed spirit.

Ethanology

Derived from:1.. Ethanol | eth·a·nol | \ˈe-thə-ˌnȯl

noun: ethanol

Systematic chemical name for ethyl alcohol (see alcohol).

Chemistry Any organic compound whose molecule contains one or more hydroxyl groups attached to a carbon atom. A colorless volatile flammable liquid C2H5OH that is the intoxicating agent in spirits, beer, & wine- also ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol.

2. Ology | ol·o·gy | ˈäləjē/

noun: ology; plural noun: ologies

a subject of study; a branch of knowledge.

Ethanolo¿y ​Spirit House & Distillery (Ethanolo¿y ​Spirit House & Distillery)

What is Mel

Mel Vocatus or Mel is a distilled spirit made from Cherry Blossom Honey.

Ethanolo¿y Distillation takes mead, ferments it and then distills the solution into a spirit. The spirit then rests on new American white oak.

The Michigan distillery states that this product is truly the “Nectar of the Gods.”

The product is similar to bourbon in taste and color, without the grain bite. Unlike bourbon, Mel is made entirely from honey instead of corn or other grains.

Some of the notes of the Elk Rapids Mel are banana and pear, but it is made with rich caramel, cherry blossom and clearly defined honey.

According to Nick, it costs 700% more to make Mel than any of the distillery’s grain products. Because of the cost, the distillery owner said that very few distilleries in the world make this spirit.

Nick told Forbes that it takes about 1,000 pounds of honey to make one barrel and five million flower visits to make a bottle.

“We want everything to be locally sourced,” said Nick. “We’re focused on really capturing the soul and essence of northern Michigan agriculture and focusing on quality.”

The Cherry Blossom Honey is sourced from Cherry Ke Farms out of Kewadin, a town over from Elk Rapids.

Ethanolo¿y ​Spirit House & Distillery (Ethanolo¿y ​Spirit House & Distillery)

Behind the bar

According to founder and owner Nick, all of the ingredients for their cocktails are made in-house and juices are hand pressed. Nick said that the distillery’s menu flips three times a year and incorporates quality and unique produce like butternut squash in the fall or white chocolate in the winter. One of the cocktails on their menu was a sesame, white chocolate matcha cocktail with gin.

While the distillery is working on its bourbon, its oldest barrel is almost five years old. The distillery has five brandies and told Local 4 that they will be rolling out unique spirits within the next 2 to 10 years.

“They are all unique, all locally sourced, and they’re all that we believe to be world-class spirits,” said Nick. “The craft beverage community as a whole in northern Michigan is extremely welcoming and accommodating. And we all try to work together. We have very strong ties with a lot of the community, including the beverage community in northern Michigan.”

According to the couple, their 10-year plan is to improve the distillery’s cocktail program. There is a neighboring building that the company will be redeveloping that will house a commercial kitchen.

The goal for the couple is to make Ethanolo¿y Distillation a high-end cocktail bar and a music venue, and begin distribution of their spirits this year. There is also a barrel warehouse in the works right now that is part of the company’s distribution plans, as their spirits are currently sold only at the tasting room in Elk Rapids, Michigan.

Ethanolo¿y ​Spirit House & Distillery (Ethanolo¿y ​Spirit House & Distillery)

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About the Author:

Elizabeth Washington is a Digital News Editor and has been with Local 4 News since April 2022.