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Perlick Distillery, nestled in the center of Sarona, is well known for its premium spirits, made using grains grown on the premises along with a view of the beautiful farm setting. The Perlicks purchased a small plot of land in 1920 in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. In 2015, the family opened the distillery in a converted barn on the property to increase the farm’s revenue and provide high-quality distilled spirits.
Now spanning five generations, the family has enjoyed the privilege of toiling and cultivating the uncompromising soil against the magnificent backdrop of Wisconsin’s streams, lakes, and picturesque forests. Perlick Distillery’s American Yeoman Vodka has been a hit with consumers, and in 2023, the company plans to launch its first American Single Malt Whiskey.
When I was there to visit, I sat with my choice of crafted top notch cocktails (I went with the Dreamsicle – yum!) and watched benign puffs of clouds drift by as I looked over the massive patio. Soon, I was able to chat with Scott about their place, take a quick tour, and learn more. This place is actually featured in the shopping section of my new book: 100 Things to Do in Wisconsin Before You Die.
Distiller Scott Perlick assists with drink delivery and also poses for photos with guests. He is a former military vet (Air Force member) and law school graduate who claims the distillery was his father’s brainchild.
Over a decade ago, Scott and his father casually discussed building a distillery while on leave from the Air Force. However, Perlick didn’t think it was the right moment, so he went to law school instead.
In 2014, he commented, “As a freshly broke law school graduate, he wanted to come back and check if this worked.”In May 2015, the Perlick family opened their distillery to the public in a newly renovated, small barn on the family’s property.
Dad Tom Perlick farms roughly 3000 acres in Washburn County, growing various crops such as maize, soybeans, rye, sunflowers, barley, and wheat. Some of their grain is intentionally left behind to make vodka rather than sent to Asian markets like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
However, The major attraction is Scott’s American Yeoman Vodka, made from their hard spring wheat and barley. Scott Perlick does the distilling; his father runs the farm side of the business.
The Perlick family has been farming the area since 1920. In 1995, Tom Perlick, a qualified agronomist, took over the family farm from his father, who had operated it primarily as a dairy farm. Since then, they have experimented with various crops to find the most lucrative approach to increase the value of the land and the local market.
Tom Perlick has always been willing to adapt his farming practices to the changing times, and the Perlick Distillery is the latest example. In the late summer, visitors can enjoy the acres of sunflowers that Perlick Farms plants. Sunflowers are grown on twenty acres of the distillery’s site.
When the oil price was high in 2007, Perlick stated his family decided to plant sunflowers. He explained that initially, “the intention was to cultivate (sunflowers) and transform them into biodiesel,” which they did for some time.”However, the numbers on that front have now reversed.”
They’ve kept up sunflower production, but now they’re using it for bird food. They harvest between 300 and 400 acres annually to sell as birdseed. Each bag weighs 50 pounds. Perlick also mentioned that they’d taken advantage of the agritourism possibilities that sunflower fields offer.
A few years back, they began using sunflowers to create a maze. At the moment, both large and little mazes are available. The first two weeks of August are prime time to visit these golden fields of grain because the Sunflowers are at their brightest, but by the end of the month, the colors have faded.
Young people (those who are 14 and under) can enjoy the maze every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
AMERICAN YEOMAN VODKA
Scott Perlick, whose father Tom farms 2,000 acres and whose specialty is vodka, runs a successful family business that produces fine spirits. Since 2014, American Yeoman Vodka has been the exclusive focus of Perlick Distillery’s operations in Sarona. The Perlick family worked on the recipe for Yeoman for years.
Yeoman means “a person who owns and works a small farm.” The Perlick family’s American Yeoman Vodka has been a staple in the spirits industry since 2014. Ingredients include domestically-cultivated wheat and barley. Wheat, a source of starch, is the foundation of the distillation process.
Perlick claims that the combination of barley and wheat causes the creation of enzymes that break down the starch into sugar. They mix wheat and barley, grind them into flour, and then mix the flour and water and heat it, breaking down the starches and sugars in the grain and barley.
The vodka comes about by distilling the fermented alcohol product. Anything that goes into the alcohol grows. The water used in the procedure is limestone filtered at the family’s well.
They are in charge of the whole process, from the beginning, during seed plantation, to the very end, when they sell the crop. The final product is a fantastic vodka made from a smooth blend of wheat and barley.
They keep things simple and do them well, as shown by the demand increase. Scott thinks that they could make millions of bottles a year. Most of their sales happen on the farm, but they also work with Bill’s Distributing in Menomonie to get American Yeoman into about 70 bars, restaurants, and liquor stores.
PERLICK DISTILLERY WHISKEY
Single malt follows the same procedure to produce as the other types of whiskey: fermenting grains with yeast to convert the sugars into alcohol, followed by distillation to generate a highly concentrated alcoholic beverage, and finally, aging in barrels before bottling. Because of their high price, single malts are typically drank neat or in high-priced cocktails.
Single-malt whisky only undergoes a single distillation (typical barley). Malted whiskey starts like most beer, soaking uncooked grains in water to begin germination, then drying them at high temperatures to prevent further sprouting. Malting increases the grain’s fermentability. You cannot make single malt whiskey Scotch with regular barley (or any other grain).
Single-malt Scotch whiskey and blended scotch both use peated malt in their creation. The whiskey gets distinctive smokiness from drying the grain over locally obtained peat.”single” may be the most perplexing aspect of single malt whiskey because you cannot guarantee that the whiskey came from a particular barrel or batch.
Single malt whiskeys have an alcohol content of at least 40 percent by volume (ABV, 80 proof).
Most have less than 100 percent assurance. However, others go up to 130. Single malts mellow out and amplify specific flavor characteristics, making the drink extremely drinkable.
In the summer of 2023, the Perlick distillery will introduce its American Single Malt Whiskey version. This American Single Malt Whiskey will only contain barley cultivated on the farm, distilled to no more than 80% ABV, and aged in a new charred white oak barrel for at least two years before release.
Production of this whiskey began in 2018, and it will sit in barrels for at least five years before hitting store shelves. In the summer of 2023, they should have our first finished barrels. However, due to constraints in the manufacturing process, they can only manufacture a modest amount of whiskey per year, equivalent to approximately 1,500 bottles.
The tasting room has a breathtaking view of the surrounding farmland. There is a beautiful setting with a bar and tables on the lower level, plus extra seats with a picture of the distillery in the loft. They have a great deck and outdoor space, perfect for lounging throughout the hot summer.
An event mezzanine is available on the second floor. The Perlick family has been busy logging hardwood and cutting field stones into slabs for the distillery’s floor. Because of the new space, up to 250 people can now comfortably sit.
Sexy drinks, martinis, and other libations are available from a menu that rotates seasonally and is available in the chic tasting room. Indulge in one of their top-notch cocktails while relaxing in their stunning tasting room or outside patio.
The Roost of Sarona, just a mile away, is working with Perlick Distillery to bring delicious food to your table. Check out the food menu and start with some delicious appetizers. The tasting room has a pastoral view of the countryside.
Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m.7 pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m.11 am to 7 p.m.7 pm, and Sundays from 10 a.m.10 am to 3 p.m.3 pm are the hours of operation for the Tasting Room all year long. They do not close during business hours for private functions. The Tasting Room is not open on Thanksgiving and Christmas, so you won’t be able to visit it on those days.
Distillery tours are available upon request but not during production hours. You’re welcome to bring in your snacks if you like. However, The prohibition on outside alcohol importation remains in effect. The Tasting Room is a dog-free zone; however, your canine companion is more than welcome on the outdoor patio and grass if on a leash.
The Perlick Distillery hosts a farmers market every Saturday from the beginning of June through the end of September. At Shell Lake, Green Willow Homestead is in charge of running the market.
When purchasing from this seller, you can only buy the things that the merchant has grown or created themselves. Shoppers at the farmers market are welcome to pick up a drink from the Tasting Room and bring it to the stalls.
At the market, you are welcome to bring any produce, commodities, or wares you have manufactured or grown in the area. All products should obtain the approval of the management of the market before selling to clients.
Suppose you sell meat, eggs, baked goods, or processed foods. In that case, you have a responsibility to ensure that the preparation and packaging of the products adhere to the regulations set forth by the state and the federal government. The supplier must meet all necessary authorizations and legal requirements.
If you give the native food and drink in Wisconsin a shot, you will love the experience. Visit the Perlick Distillery in W5014 County Highway B, Sarona, Wisconsin 54870, for a taste of their fine spirits, a refreshing cocktail, and a bottle to impress your friends back home.