Of three fads that hit northern Michigan in the 1950sâ€”the hoola-hoop, Elvis Presley and vodkaâ€”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 Olesonâ€™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 areaâ€™s rich fruit crop.
Vodka is one of the worldâ€™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.
â€œI started the process six months ago,â€? he said. â€œWe came up with a recipe and then went about getting our permits, licenses and land. Itâ€™s a lengthy process, but now weâ€™re getting closeâ€¦and itâ€™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.