Wise Men Distillery plans downtown Grand Rapids location COURTESY PHOTO

Wise Men Distillery plans downtown Grand Rapids location

BY Sunday, December 01, 2019 06:12pm

GRAND RAPIDS — Kentwood-based Wise Men Distillery LLC is planning a downtown Grand Rapids tasting room.

The distillery, which opened at 4717 Broadmoor Ave. SE this summer, wants to open the satellite facility within the McKay Tower at 146 Monroe Center St. NW. .

Tom Borisch, one of the owners and founders of Wise Men Distillery, said his fellow owners wanted an intimate tasting room to serve high-end craft cocktails. The new location would offer about 700 square feet for the bar.

“It’s right by Rosa Parks, and everything kind of happens right there,” Borisch told MiBiz. “And that spot is small —  we wanted a nice small spot.” 

When they opened Wise Men, the owners ultimately wanted to expand, Borisch said. The partners are working on a quick buildout of the new location, and are hoping to open in the first quarter of 2020. The tasting room will have a similar style to the current location, with reclaimed barn wood and tin details, Borisch said.

Wise Men Distillery currently offers white whiskey, rum, moonshine and gin, and will serve its first bourbon release around Christmas this year.

The company’s tasting room project still needs to secure various local and state approvals. 

Grand Rapids is increasingly on the map for satellite tasting rooms among Michigan distilleries.

In addition to Wise Men, Detroit-based Two James Spirits LLC plans to open a tasting room inside 7 Monks Taproom on Michigan Street, as MiBiz was first to report. The distillery will occupy a former seating and event space inside 7 Monks, and have a separate entrance within the building.

Jackson-based Grand River Distillery also opened a joint tasting room within the Forty Pearl restaurant earlier this year. Traverse City-based Grand Traverse Distillery formerly had a location at Forty Pearl, as well as inside the Grand Rapids Downtown Market before that. 

New Holland Artisan Spirits of Holland, a part of New Holland Brewing Co., opened a second location in 2016 at 417 Bridge St. NW. 

The growth in off-site tasting rooms comes as the state Legislature last year changed Michigan’s Liquor Control Code to allow distilleries to serve full pours and cocktails at up to five tasting rooms, in addition to their manufacturing premises. Previously, distillers could only serve samples up to half an ounce and could not offer cocktails at tasting rooms. 

Under Michigan law, small distilleries can operate an unlimited number of licensed tasting rooms that only offer samples.

Other parts of the craft beverage industry are also targeting Grand Rapids for tasting rooms. Cedar Springs Brewing Co. this month announced plans to open Küsterer Brauhaus, a satellite German-style beer hall, at 642 Bridge Street NW, as MiBiz reported. Other breweries based outside of Grand Rapids that operate tasting rooms in the city include Dexter-based Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and Detroit-based Atwater Brewing Co. 

As well, Conklin-based Pux Cider is opening its first tasting room at 311 Fuller Ave. NE, next door to The Cheese Lady store, as MiBiz first reported. The company had focused only on the distribution market until this point.


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