Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A visit to Ugly Dog Distillery

This past Sunday, my husband Scott and I took a tour of Ugly Dog Distillery, located in Chelsea. I had bought a few tickets for the tour on the website Living Social, thinking it would be a fun way to spend an afternoon. The drive down to Chelsea was beautiful, as it was a gorgeous fall day, and we had a great time at the distillery itself (especially because we got to meet the "ugly dog" after whom the distillery was named).

That's Ruger, the "Ugly Dog," on this T-shirt.
He's really not ugly; he's a German wirehaired pointer,
and "ugly dog" is the breed's unofficial nickname.

Ugly Dog Distillery has been open about three years, and was built on a dare. One evening, founder Jon Dyer was sitting around a campfire with his friends, Ruger on his lap, when one of the group told Dyer that he should build a still and make whisky. Not one to back down from a challenge, Dyer got to work, and eventually created the business that is now Ugly Dog. The distillery is located in an unassuming storefront outside Chelsea, and produces an array of libations, including its signature product, Ugly Dog Vodka, which won a gold medal at the 2012 MicroLiquor Spirit Awards. The distillery also sells rum and gin, as well as flavored vodkas---black cherry, raspberry, whipped cream, and...bacon. Yes, you read that right. Bacon vodka. Scott and I bought a bottle to use in bloody marys, and though we haven't opened it yet, I'm pretty sure it's going to be awesome.

During our tour, director of manufacturing
Dewey Winkle described the process of making vodka.

Ugly Dog is truly a "made in Michigan" business. The company makes its vodka from Michigan grain, and Dyer himself built the stills that generate Ugly Dog's drinks. Ugly Dog staff members also fill each bottle and apply decals by hand. The results are sold in hundreds of locations around Michigan, including several Meijer and Kroger stores. Check the company's website to learn where you can find Ugly Dog, as well as for information about the spirits themselves.

And what about Ruger, the face of Ugly Dog? I LOVE dogs, so I couldn't wait to meet him. He was pretty excited about greeting all the new faces he saw in the distillery during our tour, so getting him to pose for a picture was a bit of a challenge, as evidenced by this photo:

"Let go of me, lady, I've got places to go,
people to see."

But later, during the tour, he stopped to admire my purse, so we got a better pic:
Apparently, Ruger likes Coach products---either that, or he's smelling my own dogs on it.

Ruger is a sweetheart, and everyone at the distillery was friendly and welcoming. Though the company doesn't regularly offer tours (as I mentioned, our tour was part of a Living Social deal), I highly recommend that, if you're ever in the area, you stop at Ugly Dog to purchase your poison of choice. And be sure to look for Ugly Dog products at your local store. Though I can't wait to try our bacon vodka, the whipped cream flavor was also calling my name, so I might need to hunt down that one.

Ugly Dog Distillery is located at 14495 N. Territorial Road in Chelsea. Its phone number is (734) 433-0433.

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