After the shift in Minnesota distillery law and a crowdfunding campaign circa 2012, Loon Liquors launched in Northfield, Minnesota with a copper still and plenty of uncharted territory in 2014. The foundation of their Indiegogo campaign was their flagship Loonshine. In the early months, Loonshine was a white, unaged Whiskey, a spirit commonly seen at many of the green microdistilleries in the Twin Cities.
Co-founders Mark Schiller and Simeon Rossi have expanded their line-up from one prototype-like bottle to a catalog that includes a gin, a vodka, and a handful of liqueurs. The variety now available in liquor stores may be a product of their cocktail room. According to Minnesota laws, distilleries must produce any spirits or liqueurs that are served to visitors, which results in a wider array for consumers if those spirits are bottled and distributed.
One such offering is the Lac Coeur Coffee Liqueur, a certified organic spirit made with Peace Coffee’s Yeti cold press. It’s far from the only craft coffee liqueur on the market – Du Nord Craft Spirits Cafe Freida also uses Yeti cold press – but the combination of ingredients is more than java. Lac Coeur Coffee Liqueur combines the cold press with vanilla beans, cacao nibs, and molasses. It contains about half the sugar as mass-produced liqueurs like Kahlúa.
Lac Coeur is relatively low in alcohol, 25% ABV, and it’s pleasant over ice. The typical applications work — it makes for a wonderful white Russian — but is far more versatile since it is not cream-based or overly sweet. It’s dominate flavor is, of course, coffee, but it also adds depth of flavor to other brown-spirit-based libations. In a traditional Old Fashioned, it plays with the bitters and orange garnish and finishes in a tiramisu-like flourish.
In addition to adding breadth to their line-up, Loon Liquors has allowed their Loonshine to evolve into a lightly-oaked whiskey. It now has the color of ginger ale and mild tannic depth. Loonshine is made with organic barley and wheat, and is rested on oak staves for wood character similar to Crooked Water l’Eau Grand French oak finished vodka.
On first sniff, there’s a plastic-like aroma that is not present in the flavor. Instead, we found an enjoyable toffee and caramel corn like profile that works well to balance citrus and herbs. Not surprisingly, it’s lacking the depth of more hearty aged spirits, and probably will not woo any dedicated bourbon lovers. However, for mixing in bright, summer cocktails, Loonshine plays well.