J. Carver Distillery award

Waconia’s J. Carver Distillery won Best in Class for its Apple Brandy at the 2019 American Craft Spirits Awards on Feb. 11. From left to right in the photo are team members Bill Miller, Gina Holman, Maureen Mara and Dan Niesen.

WACONIA — J. Carver Distillery won one of the highest honors at the 2019 American Craft Spirits Awards on Feb. 11.

The distillery, located at 1320 Mill Lane in Waconia, took home the Best in Class award in the brandy category for its J. Carver Apple Brandy. Best in Class is the highest honor in each of the seven judging categories, which were: brandy, gin, rum, specialty spirits, vodka and grain, whiskey and innovation awards.

Gina Holman, founding partner of J. Carver, told Lakeshore Weekly News the team “is so honored” to win the award.

“Our business strategy is to collaborate with local producers, which led us to produce the first Calvados-style apple brandy in Minnesota,” Holman said.

The J. Carver Apple Brandy uses apples grown at Sponsel’s Minnesota Harvest in Jordan, about 20 miles from the distillery. The fruit is harvested, pressed, fermented, distilled and aged in toasted oak barrels coopered in Minnesota, Holman said.

J. Carver won six other awards:

  • Hunt Club Double Barrel Rye — bronze
  • J. Carver Apple Brandy — silver
  • J. Carver Lake House Vodka — bronze
  • J. Carver Straight Rye Whiskey — bronze
  • J. Carver Vodka — bronze
  • Runestone Straight Rye — bronze

Six other Minnesota distilleries also won awards at the American Craft Spirits Association’s annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show, which was held at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis this year. They were:

Tattersall Distilling in Minneapolis

  • Barreled Rum — Best in Class
  • Barreled Rum — gold
  • Tattersall Gin — bronze
  • Tattersall Barreled Gin — bronze
  • Blackstrap Rum — bronze
  • Barreled Rum — gold
  • Freewheeler Pommeau — bronze
  • Grapefruit Crema — bronze
  • Crème De Fleur — bronze
  • Lime Crema — bronze
  • Orange Crema — bronze
  • Fernet — bronze
  • Amaro — bronze
  • Aquavit — bronze
  • Bitter Orange Liqueur — gold
  • Vodka — bronze

Bent Brewstillery in Roseville

  • Gunner Ghost Reserve — bronze

Loon Liquor Co. in Northfield

  • Lac Coeur Ginger Liqueur — bronze
  • Lac Coeur Blueberry Liqueur — bronze
  • Lac Coeur Coffee Liqueur — bronze
  • Wheaton Barley — bronze
  • Loonshine — bronze

Vikre Distillery in Duluth

  • Lake Superior Vodka — bronze
  • Honor Brand, Hay & Sunshine Whiskey — bronze
  • Bent Paddle Black Malt Whiskey — bronze

Far North Spirits in Hallock

  • Roknar Minnesota Rye Whiskey — silver

11 Wells Spirits Company in St. Paul

  • Barrel Aged Boiler Room Rum — silver
  • Cocktail Collection: Allspice Liqueur — silver

RockFilter Distillery in Spring Grove

  • Dessa’s Time & Distance Organic Bourbon Whiskey — bronze
  • Organic Barrel Roll Rye Whiskey — silver

The full list of winners can be found at https://bit.ly/2GIUvmd.

Melissa Turtinen is the community editor for Lakeshore Weekly News and Eden Prairie News. She's passionate about adding context to stories and informing people about what's going on in their community. She enjoys being outside, traveling and good beer.


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