Of three fads that hit northern Michigan in the 1950s–the hoola-hoop, Elvis Presley and vodka–one of them will now have a niche business here.
Kent Rabish is establishing the Up North Vodka Co. in a new building a half mile from the new Oleson’s Food Store on Three Mile Road.
Rabish is building a 1,200-liter still that costs $250,000 and will produce a variety of vodka that will take advantage of the area’s rich fruit crop.
Vodka is one of the world’s most popular spirits but it is relatively new in the U.S. It was rarely consumed outside Europe before the 1950s, but its popularity spread to America by way of post-war France.
Rabish saw an opportunity to bring a distillery to Michigan and has worked diligently to make it happen.
“I started the process six months ago,â€? he said. “We came up with a recipe and then went about getting our permits, licenses and land. It’s a lengthy process, but now we’re getting close…and it’s exciting.â€?
When he does get rolling, he expects to produce 4,000 cases of vodka a year, about 150 cases every two weeks.
Photo by John Russell.