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Michigan Distillery Brings Back Mining-Era Whiskey

After disappearing for roughly 100 years, a taste of the Copper Country is now back.

Iron Fish Distillery of Thompsonville, MI has re-introduced Copper Queen Whiskey, which is directly connected to the area’s mining era.

Owner Richard Anderson says this spirit was originally produced and sold in Calumet.  “Copper Queen Whiskey was one of the most popular whiskeys sold in Red Jacket saloons, which was the former name of Calumet, and was sold throughout the entire Copper Country region and disappeared after Prohibition,” said Anderson.

Anderson partnered with former Calumet Theatre Executive Director Laura Miller to donate part of the proceeds to support the historic venue.  “For every 2,000 bottles of Copper Queen Whiskey we sell, we provide $1,000 to the Calumet Theatre and this whiskey is being sold throughout the state of Michigan and in Illinois,” Anderson said.

Copper Queen Whiskey was launched in May and is now available at local retail stores.

Here is the full press release from The Marketing Department:

THOMPSONVILLE, MI (June 13, 2019) –

Michigan’s first farm based distillery is resurrecting a piece of Keweenaw Peninsula history to sipping glasses throughout Michigan with the launch of the stunning new Copper Queen Whiskey.

During the rise of the mining copper boom, young Narisco Bianchi emigrated from Italy to Calumet, Michigan in 1897 and opened a successful saloon after working as a teamster for the Calumet Brewing Company. It was around 1914 that he launched Copper Queen, a “high grade” blended whiskey that was likely sourced and relabeled by Bianchi. Soon miners throughout the Keweenaw Peninsula and in Red Jacket saloons were drinking Bianchi’s ‘Copper Queen’ Whiskey. Red Jacket became Calumet where the whiskey of those times nearly faded away due to prohibition, if not for local business owners Jerry and Sandy Michelle locating an original bottle and advocating for the reintroduction of this once treasured spirit. The award winning Iron Fish Distillery is rekindling Copper Queen™ Whiskey after more than 100 years.

“Starting with the sweetness of corn, the earthiness of malted barley and the fruity spice of rye, we carefully sourced and relabeled this timeless elixir, as a commemorative whiskey celebrating the splendor and heritage of Michigan’s Copper Country,” said Richard Anderson, Partner at Iron Fish Distillery. Anderson continued, “We reimagined the label to be a compelling postcard for the region and hope whiskey enthusiasts will eagerly add Copper Queen Whiskey to their collection and take a sip while planning their trip to the Copper Country!”

Anderson, who earlier in his career worked on numerous community and economic development initiatives across the Upper Peninsula and was the founding CEO of a community development corporation – Northern Initiatives stated that Iron Fish Distillery will donate proceeds from the sale of Copper Queen Whiskey to the historic Calumet Theater, which has also been a part of the community since 1900. The unique bottle label is inspired by the many famous actresses, such as Lillian Russel, who have performed at the Calumet Theatre for more than a century. Laura Miller, Executive Director at Calumet Theatre, said, “We appreciate Iron Fish recognizing a piece of our history, and honoring the performers who have graced our stage.”

The commemorative bottling of Copper Queen is available in 750 ML (43% ABV / 86 proof) started arriving in stores this May. For more information about where to buy Iron Fish spirits or to plan your visit to the distillery, go to ironfishdistillery.com.

ABOUT IRON FISH DISTILLERY
Iron Fish Distillery is Michigan’s first working farm, growing and sourcing local grain to distill a full line of small-batch craft spirits on a reclaimed 1890’s farmstead. Iron Fish does this from the ground up with practices that respect the health of nearby watersheds. Inspired by the Steelhead Trout that journey each year to their origin in the nearby Betsie River, Iron Fish is returning spirit to its origin using heritage methods of distilling on an environmentally third party verified farm growing non GMO grain. Every step of the process is done by hand at the distillery.

To date, Iron Fish has won over 10 international and national awards for their spirits, and started distributing their products through Imperial Beverage to over 800 Michigan locations and in Illinois through Big Fish Spirits, a retailer delivering craft spirits to home and offices with their mobile app.

Follow Copper Queen on Instagram @CopperQueenWhiskey. Find Iron Fish spirits near you: https://ironfishdistillery.com/where-to-buy/

Copper Queen is distributed in Michigan by Imperial Beverage. Want a tasting at your bar or liquor store? Email sales@ironfishdistillery.com for info.

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