“If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you” – Steve Jobs
When we think about sustainability in the food and beverage realm, spirits haven’t typically been at the forefront of what comes to mind. Until now. Back in January, I attended the launch event for a USDA certified, Non-GMO organic vodka at Tattersall Distilling in Northeast Minneapolis. From seed to bottle, their vision and commitment to the creation of this ethereal spirit via the use of organic grains is something to be celebrated. Following that event, I had the opportunity to meet with Co-Founder and Chief Officer, Jon Kreidler for a tour and discussion. I am thrilled to be able to share the narrative of this organic vodka journey, as well as the various ways that Tattersall Distilling is making sustainable spirit production a central part of their mission.
Tattersall Organic Vodka Launch Event
“It is multifaceted. It has to do with the traceability. Consumers are becoming much more cognizant of their food sources and where things are coming from. The traceability of organics really hammers this home, when somebody is enjoying exactly what it says on the label. The paper trail of this organic vodka is transparent. From the number stamped on the bottle all the way back to Jerome, to the organic seed that he bought. The number follows it the whole way through” ~ Bentley Gillman
What is traceability and why is it important? When something is traceable it means that we are able to obtain detailed information regarding where and how a product was made. In the world of spirits this means that there is documentation chronicling the entire course, from where the seed was purchased, all of the way to the bottled product. While the organic label carries with it substantially more certifications and paperwork, everyone involved in the process from the farmers to the owners and distillers at Tattersall agree that it is very much worth it.
Local and Organic
Jerome Walch is a corn farmer and the owner of Four Sisters Farm in Rochester, Minnesota. This farm is 160 acres, much smaller than the average sized farm which is often well into the thousands of acres. Jerome also happens to be the Father in-law of the Head Distiller at Tattersall Distilling, Bentley Gillman.
“We decided in 2004, being a small farm in today’s economy, that the best way to survive was to go organic.” Jerome conveyed that there is a sense of security for consumers in knowing the origin of their ingredients so he saw the ability to pivot to organic as a vital opportunity to meet that need. It was a three year transition for Four Sisters Farm to obtain organic certification. During this time:
All agricultural crops produced to be certified and labeled organic must comply with the standards set out in the National Organic Program (NOP). Whatever the crop type, Certified Organic crops must be produced on land that meets the requirements of the NOP, including but not limited to:
- No prohibited substance applied to it for a period of 36 months immediately preceding harvest
- Must use organic seed and planting stock when commercially available
- No genetically modified seed is allowed
- Only approved seed treatments are permitted
~ From The Minnesota Crop Improvement Association Website
The organic certification is renewed yearly.
Tattersall Distilling collaborated with the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association to ensure their grain miller, Dale Anderson of Anderson Farms in Cambridge Minn., also obtained organic certification.
Dale takes what Jerome grows and he mills it. When he became certified as an organic handler and processor, he was required to document how he would segregate the organic product that Jerome provided (Jerome’s organic corn from Dale’s conventional corn). He needed to draft a plan to prove that he could keep the organic product separate on his farm and while hauling it to the distillery.
Early on in this collaboration, they gave much thought about the corn variety and what would be best for milling and vodka production. The corn used for the organic vodka is a golden, soft textured corn that breaks down easier and is more digestible.
Both farmers transport their raw ingredients a relatively short distance and this local connection means less road miles are traveled, resulting in a more eco-friendly process and a substantial decrease in the carbon footprint.
The Vodka Pollens cocktail was made with Tattersall Organic Vodka, lemon and honey from local hives. The rim was garnished with bee pollen.
Upcycled grains to edible ingredients
Tattersall Distilling has partnered with NETZRO, a company focused on the “rescue and restoration” of spent grains. NETZRO is leading the way in helping companies mindfully upcycle their ingredients while also decreasing water use and waste.
“Today, NETZRO is working with award-winning craft distillery, Tattersall Distilling, known for its sustainable practices. Tons of nutrient-rich, spend rye grains are rescued by NETZRO every week. During the distilling process the sugars are extracted, then using NETZRO proprietary technology, the spent grains are restored leaving behind the nutritious fiber and protein. This marks the first time that upcycled grain from a distillery will be made commercially available as edible ingredients” ~ Netzro Website
“Over a third of all food produced gets wasted every year. This waste could feed more than 800 million people. We’ve partnered with NETZRO to be the first distillery in the nation to upcycle its spent grain as commercially available ingredients. The result is high in fiber, high in protein and low in sugar. Even better: it’s good for the planet, farms, consumers and animals.” – Tattersall Distilling
We are in a collective search for creative hunger relief solutions, in our own communities and around the world. I believe that cutting-edge collaborations similar to the one that NETZRO is doing with companies like Tattersall Distilling will have dramatic impacts in that area. We should always be considering ways to innovate along the food chain and these types of organizations are a force for positive change.
NETZRO was set to launch commercially in March of this year and then the COVID-19 crisis hit. They are looking forward to having their upcycled products available for retail purchase at some co-ops as well as online at http://www.netzro.us soon.
“How do you get more food with less resources and less waste? Reduce Recover and Reharvest Food Byproducts”
~ Sue Marshall, CEO of NETZRO
The blood orange ricotta cake pictured below was baked using an upcycled flour mix (made with spent rye grain from Tattersall Distilling). This is a blend of 80% Organic Whole Wheat Flour and 20% Upcycled Rye Flour.
It paired beautifully with the Tattersall Bottled Old Fashioned!
U of M Collaboration
Tattersall Distilling currently has one barrel aging with Kernza® whiskey. This is a whiskey made from a perennial wheat that the land institute in Kansas and the University of Minnesota has been developing over the past 5-10 years. It is a cousin of annual wheat. The tap root is approximately 15 feet long, making it essentially drought resistant.
There are some obvious benefits to using perennial wheat:
“Perennial crops do not have to be reseeded or replanted every year. They are robust and protect soil from erosion. They also improve soil structure” – landinstitute.org
Kernza® grains are temperature hardy and can withstand great fluctuations in the climate. Tattersall is hoping to plant 25 acres of their own crops next year, giving them better access to it. The desire to integrate a more earth friendly wheat into their spirit production is applause worthy. The Kernza® whiskey at Tattersall has been in the barrel for about a year now. They will likely blend it and use it to experiment with different varietals.
All of the barrels at Tattersall Distilling are made out of Minnesota white oak. They are able to use them twice then they send them to breweries where they will be able to use them one additional time. They had a meeting the day before my tour with the nature conservancy about a future tree replacement project. They will be planting new trees for all of the barrels they use. One tree currently yields 3 barrels. The new trees will sequester greater than 20 X the Carbon of the lost trees over the course of their lifetime.
“Trees—all plants, in fact—use the energy of sunlight, and through the process of photosynthesis they take carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and water from the ground. In the process of converting it into wood they release oxygen into the air. In addition to the CO2 that trees capture, they also help soil capture significant amounts of carbon”
From the Article: How to Erase 100 Years of Carbon Emissions? Plant Trees – lots of them http://www.nationalgeographic.com
The Tattersall Story
Tattersall Distilling is a privately owned company and was founded in 2016. Tattersall started with 9,500 square feet. Their building needs have increased from the original 9,500 to 40,000 square feet since their opening. They have been fortunate to be able to take over neighboring spaces as they grow. In the past 4 years, their portfolio has grown to include more than 30 all-natural spirits and liqueurs which are available in over 30 states. All of their spirits are created with the highest quality ingredients, which are sourced locally whenever possible. They are continually experimenting with different botanicals and inventive flavor combinations. In addition to the ability to purchase and sip their marvelous spirits in the tasting room, you can obtain them at liquor stores and their spirits can be experienced on the cocktail menus in many bars and restaurants in Minnesota and beyond.
At the present time Tattersall Distilling number 212 on the Financial Times list of fastest growing businesses in the country.
Post-tour tasting photos
Tattersall Distilling has launched their own user friendly App for home cocktail creation! This makes home mixology easy and entertaining.
Cocktail below and in the feature photo at the top:
- 2 oz. Tattersall Organic Vodka
- 3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake vigorously.
- Strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with sugar.
My goal when I started this sustainability series was to promote the critical connection between consumers and their chefs & farmers. The exploration of these relationships has allowed me to begin unearthing meaningful stories locally and globally. Tattersall Distilling is a remarkable example of a business that is striking the masterful balance between the establishment of sustainable initiatives that will have long lasting effects on the community and the creation of exceptional, award winning spirits.
“It’s got life to it, there is an Intentionality and spirit to what we do” – Bentley Gillman
“Farm to Table…Ocean to Fork…and Grain to Glass. We cast our votes in favor of the planet one bite, one sip at a time” ~ Lisa Patrin
Click on the Follow Button in the side bar at the top of the page to receive automatic updates each time an article is posted on The Empty Nesters Kitchen Blog.