The stretch of river between Detroit Michigan distillery and Windsor narrows to about a mile at parts, making it perfect for smuggling whiskey from Canada. Ice skaters dragged loads of booze behind them on sleds during the winter, and in the summer women tucked whiskey under their dresses to avoid detection.
With its easy access to Canadian distilleries, railroad shipments and quick transport by boat and automobile, it was a logical place to start when the federal government began Prohibition in 1918. But by 1919, Detroiters had surpassed the beer drinking habits of their counterparts in other cities, turning instead to whiskey and its higher-proof cousin, moonshine.
During the era of prohibition, entrepreneurs stepped up to fill the need for spirits that were too potent to sell to the public. Arrow Liquors, for example, was the first American manufacturer of the newest fad of the time—vodka—and it caught on early.
Discovering Detroit’s Hidden Gem: A Tour of a Distillery in the Motor City
Now, local distillers are combining the small-batch tradition of their heritage craft with modern technology to create some of America’s finest spirits, from whiskeys that can age in Oloroso sherry barrels to Carribbean rum. They’re also tackling unique challenges with which no other American distillers have grappled—from a struggling city that hasn’t recovered from bankruptcy to the scourge of opioids.
One such business is Detroit City Distillery, a distillery and tasting room inspired by the glory and glamour of Detroit’s past. Located in Eastern Market, the oldest and largest farmers market in the state, they’ve crafted smaller-batch gin, whiskey and vodka using ingredients sourced from nearby farms.
Weiss Distilling Co.
34 14 Mile Rd, Clawson, MI 48017, United States