TOLEDO, Ohio — Whether you like liquor or are more of a beer person, Toledo Spirits has you covered. Grab a cocktail at Bellwether on the main floor or head downstairs and try the variety of craft beers from the Heavy Beer Company.
Founders Andrew Newby and Dustin Wade shared some behind-the-scenes of the distilling process. One of the newer products in the Toledo Spirits line is Black Kite Coffee Liqueur.
“Just three ingredients: coffee, rum and sugar. The coffee and rum are made right here on site. The sugar is all 100% cane sugar; some white (and) some brown. It has a nice pleasant sweetness to it. A great big rich coffee and you can definitely tell there is some rum in there,” Andrew said.
In addition to the simple ingredients, Toledo Spirits teamed up with two other local businesses to create Black Kite Coffee Liqueur. Andrew shared the new product is “the perfect collaboration of our ingredients and the cold brew process over at Black Kite coffee. We also work with Flying Rhino. It’s a great collaboration between three great Toledo institutions providing a fantastic, very drinkable spirit.”
The coffee liqueur has a forward coffee taste and finishes with a warm sweetness. In addition to the new liqueur, Andrew and Dustin shared the creative process behind their East Side Gin.
Dustin shared his opinion on gin being a polarizing spirit based on others' reactions to it. He mentioned how people either love the liquor or hate it and there is almost no in-between.
“We really have probably spent the most time with this because we tried tincture methods where we were distilling individual ingredients and then blending them together. And then we ended up settling, actually after about 100 test batches, on East Side Gin,” Dustin said.
Most of Toledo Spirits' product development is a two-year cycle and begins with a brainstorming session. The team decides on a combination of ingredients that are both true to the brand and make the liquor stand out. After brainstorming, the distilling process begins and is followed by many taste test trials. By the end of the cycle, a Toledo Spirit is born. East Side Gin took about the whole two years to develop due to the many ingredients and processes that can be used to produce the product.
“Gin is really juniper flavored vodka. So you are starting off with a base spirit, a really good vodka, and then once you add juniper to it, it’s gin … and whatever you do after that it’s kind of open,” Andrew said.
Dustin further explained the two styles used to distill gin. The first being a pot-styled gin, where all the ingredients are boiled together in the kettle. The second is a carter head style, which is where the ingredients are put in a vapor trail. For their East Side Gin, Dustin said they came up with a combination of the two.
Starting out their partnership in the technology industry, Andrew and Dustin found their true passion when they established Toledo Spirits in 2013. Located in the Historic Vistula District, also known as Lowertown, Toledo Spirits is influencing the Glass City one cocktail at a time.
Although Toledo Spirits carefully and intentionally crafts each spirit, there is one thing that stands out most - their dedication to local.
"Really tying in that sort of farm to glass concept so you're bringing some of those local farmers and local producers into the product," Dustin said.
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