RockFilter Distillery

By Rick Pedersen –  

Americans have always had a romantic fascination and attraction to distilled spirits dating back to the days of prohibition.

The location of these Speakeasy joints was often secret and hidden. Visions of Al Capone come to mind and packed businesses full of eager customers dancing the night away in a long-forgotten era.

The product’s produced could be anything from drinking a potent rubbing alcohol concoction that tasted horrible to the other end of the spectrum of amazing magical elixir not to be found anywhere else. Not only were the beverage locations a secret, but also the recipes being produced, and their site was an even more, a bigger secret.

Nonetheless, some families for many generations in hundreds of years were involved in producing these alcoholic potions. The means of production varied greatly, but in the end, the process always had to include turning grains into sugars by removing starches and later becoming the sugar into alcohol. Accomplishing this process and the recipe used determined the quality, palatability, and final demand of any one product.

This brings me to my recent tour of Rock Filter Distillery and meeting Christian Myrah. This small-batch distillery in Spring Grove, Minnesota, has indeed found its niche in the production of whiskey, bourbon, and Rye. Some say water makes the whiskey, and this distillery taps into a natural Karst limestone aquifer having the same geology found in Kentucky, the bourbon birthplace. This certified organic farm produces all its grain to be used in the products being made.

Some of these are rare ancient heirloom grains not to be found anywhere else, and they lend themselves to the fantastic and unique subtle taste to be found in the items being created. Everything possible is sourced locally, beginning with the grains being ground by a late 1870s stone mill powered by local Beaver Creek. The white Oak barrel staves are cut locally and then sent out for assembly and charring. The distillery itself is a remodeled Creamery from the early 1900s, which lends to the charm of this small and welcoming location, which includes a hospitality area for sampling products this crew is so proud of producing. The tour is friendly and informal, and by the time I was done, I felt like a family member and came away with a new understanding of distilling spirits.

We had a chance to sit in the hospitality area at tours end and sample the available products currently being made and discussed what we tasted or noticed different about each one. It was relaxing and fun to share thoughts with the crew and other tour attendees while enjoying drinks and a few laughs as well. I do not believe the actual process of creating alcohol is all that complicated to learn, but I assure you no two individuals could follow the same recipe and produce the same tasting product. This is the secret and real crafting art because there are so many subtle variables, and each delicate step is changing the taste, color, and aroma of each batch. This crew is producing a drink you will not find elsewhere nor even on every liquor store shelf. This is a small batch distillery using homegrown locally, organic certified grains, and is currently only found at select locations in Minnesota.

Throughout the year, one can tour the facility, and based on time of year, a person should be checking the website. Special events are planned, whether it be music entertainment in the hospitality area or a summer barbecue from a local restaurant. Speaking of which, my wife and I had the pleasure of stopping to meet with Fat Pats Barbecue also from spring Grove. Now many people may be skeptical when they hear someone in Minnesota advertising Texas barbecue, but trust me when I say these guys will knock you off your feet with the taste of what they’re cooking.

This father and son team with a shared passion for barbecue, have a trailer they set for events or set up at the distillery on weekends. Their time and passion show in the taste of the food. I am looking forward to a warm-weather motorcycle ride back to this town to attend a distillery event and get on another plate of the best barbecue pork and chicken I have ever eaten. Lastly, I wish to finish by thanking Christian and Tim at Rock Filter for their time and tour of the distillery and their patience in educating me on the difference in products and how they’re produced. Also, thanks to Patrick and Red at Fat Pat’s for the fantastic meal. Driftless traveler, please do yourself a favor and schedule a tour of the distillery or visit the website and attend an event on the schedule. Smile if you see the barbeque trailer out front and tell Patrick and Red that Rick from Driftless magazine says hello.

RockFilter Distillery
113 Maple Dr
Spring Grove, MN 55974
(507) 498-7625