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American Fifth Spirits: Mixing the Best of Michigan

Tuesday, January 1, 2019  
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"If it doesn't look, smell or taste right we fix it before we move on.” These are the words of Rick Wyble, head distiller and president of American Fifth Spirits in Lansing’s Stadium District.

The concept of opening Lansing’s first legal distillery began the end of 2008. Due to the great recession, banks were hesitant to help with funding. As a result, the project remained dormant for several years. However, Wyble and his partners never gave up on the idea of opening Lansing’s first distillery.

In 2013, a local developer contacted Wyble’s partner about available real estate and the process of finding their future home, located at 112 N. Larch Street in downtown Lansing, began. After the addition of more investors, a government shut down in October 2013 and eight months of planning with the city, Wyble and his partners finally received a building permit.

American Fifth Spirits opened in April 2015. Through the years, the company has been using local ingredients to create high quality, innovative spirits. Since opening, they have been gaining the attention of not only the community but surrounding areas.

“We have customers bring their friends and family from out of town to showcase American Fifth. They feel what we’re doing is a really great representation of the upward trend happening in Lansing,” said Wyble. “I love seeing people react to our tasting room. It’s pretty amazing.”

American Fifth Spirits serves over 50 cocktails and update the menu the 5th of every month. This allows them to play with fresh, seasonal ingredients. All juices are freshly squeezed and syrups and liqueurs are made from scratch.

“Everything we do is by hand, completely sensory,” Wyble said. “At larger corporations, it’s all about numbers. For example, if you taste American Fifth bourbon versus other major label producers, there’s a noticeable difference in the depth of flavor because of the quality of ingredients we use.”

Wyble and his team believe you can’t fully appreciate what American Fifth is doing if you don’t understand the process.

“We’re an open book. If you have a question on how to make a spirit or cocktail we gladly give it out,” Wyble said. “People think what we do is magic but distilling has been around a long time and I’m happy to explain the process.”

Wyble encourages the community to support Lansing made products and Michigan agriculture by asking for American Fifth Spirits at your favorite bar, liquor store or restaurant.

For a full menu and the tasting room and distillery hours, visit americanfifthspirits.com.

Click here to download the January edition of FOCUS.


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