When you think of Iowa, you probably think of corn. And for good reason! Iowa has been the nation’s number one producer of corn for decades. But you know what else comes from corn? Whiskey. And Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery is making the most of Iowa’s bounty, including some from their own family farm.
Just a 15-minute drive from downtown Cedar Rapids, you’ll ﬁnd some of the best craft spirits in the country at Cedar Ridge, Iowa’s ﬁrst licensed distillery since prohibition. Since their ﬁrst batch of whiskey in 2010, Cedar Ridge has gained national attention with their spirits, winning multiple awards such as American Distilling Institute’s “2017 Distiller of the Year” and “Best American Craft Whiskey” at the 2016 New York World Spirits Competition. And this is just the beginning for Cedar Ridge — year after year their production has grown, adding more and more barrel sheds as well as creative spirits to their arsenal.
“Every year we evolve and change so much,” said Distiller Murphy Quint. “I remember when my parents told me they were going to start up a winery. I thought that was very bizarre. But here we are now, not only an award winning winery, but also a nationally recognized distillery. Cedar Ridge products are available for sale in 30 states and 5 countries.”
So what sets Cedar Ridge apart? According to Quint, the signature of Cedar Ridge spirits is the approachability. While the ﬂavors vary by product, it’s usually an “easy sipping whiskey that packs a lot of ﬂavor,” Quint says. “You can have it neat or in a cocktail and it holds up. We really try to make our whiskey represent the midwestern people. It’s very inviting, friendly, and not offensive.”
Iowa’s high quality corn isn’t the only thing working in favor of wonderful whiskey. It’s also the weather. Iowa’s unpredictable climate creates ideal conditions for aging whiskey — no temperature control needed. Thanks to the ﬂuctuations in cold and hot temperatures, oak barrels expand and contract naturally, adding all natural ﬂavor to the spirits. Because Cedar Ridge is also a winery, they are able to incorporate other unique elements to their whiskey and be more “artistic in shaping ﬂavor proﬁles,” Quint says. For their QuintEssential American Single Malt, for example, freshly emptied wine casks contribute to the rich and complex ﬂavor of the blend.
While their award winning wines and whiskeys are enough to draw visitors from across the country and even around the world, Cedar Ridge also has a gorgeous location that’s easily accessible from the highway. Tucked into the rolling hills of Swisher, the views from the tasting room are tough to beat. Stop by any day of the week and belly up to the bar for a taste or two of wine or whiskey. Grab a craft cocktail and make your way onto the gorgeous patio surrounded by lush vineyards. Take a seat and stay a while. Hungry? Order a wood-ﬁred pizza, or show up on a Sunday for the brunch buffet — don’t forget a Cedar Ridge-made Bagger Vodka Bloody Mary or a pitcher of mimosas for the group. Check out their calendar of events for live music, yoga and other happenings throughout the year.
There are many ways to experience the winery and distillery, but one of the best ways to learn more is to go behind-the-scenes on a free weekend tour. Get a sneak peak behind the scenes, learn more about their history, and see the entire distilling process from grain to glass. Tours are free and open to the public Saturdays at 11 AM, 1 PM and 3 PM
and Sundays at 1 and 3 PM.
Learn more about Cedar Ridge at crwine.com, and plan your visit today!
Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery
1441 Marak Rd Swisher, IA 52338