One hundred eighty years after we became a state, Long Road Distillers in Grand Rapids is releasing MichiGIN, a gin made from all Michigan products, on February 6th. Let's celebrate.

Long Road says the gin is crafted from 100% Michigan ingredients. The key ingredient in gin is juniper and theirs is from Beaver Island. Add to that water from Lake Michigan, along with all the other ingredients needed.

In a release, Long Road co-founder Kyle VanStrien says the juniper was the hardest thing to source from Michigan, and yet, it's the key ingredient.

It wasn't until sitting around a campfire with family over the summer, discussing different botanicals that a Michigan source for juniper was revealed to VanStrien.

"I mentioned in passing that we were on the hunt for local juniper," said VanStrien, "and my cousin stopped me and said that it was everywhere on Beaver Island where she grew up!"

Less than a month later, VanStrien and business partner Jon O'Connor were on a small plane headed to Beaver Island, Lake Michigan's largest island.  After a short scouting visit, it was clear finding enough juniper wouldn't be a problem. The bushes are so prevalent on parts of the island, they've become a nuisance for many residents.
During the last week of September, 2016, a dozen members of the Long Road staff set out from Grand Rapids to harvest juniper berries on the island, collecting nearly 200 pounds over a two-day period. The team weathered 15-foot waves on the two-hour ferry ride and chilly rain while picking.

Long Road is hosting a release party on February 6th, beginning at 4pm. They're just north of downtown Grand Rapids, on Leonard off US 131 at 537 Leonard St.

MICHIGIN will also be available in statewide distribution at retailers, bars and restaurants beginning February 6.