By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN Vodka. Cranberries. Oranges. Sugar. Water.
When Kevin Borchart of New Germany and Chris Field of Excelsior came up with a refreshing drink using these five simple ingredients, they were just two friends enjoying a hobby together.
Now, the two of them along with their wives are running a vodka-infusing business called Mason Dixon Spirits at the old Winsted creamery.
The launch date for distribution was March 20.
“We’ve been working on this business for four years we just didn’t know it,” Field said.
At first, Field and Borchart made the infused vodka drinks for family and friends. Then, word began to spread.
“People were asking about it, and there was clearly some interest,” Field said.
About 14 months ago, he and Borchart began looking at the market for this type of liqueur, and decided to up their production. By then, they had fine-tuned the recipe for just the right amount of fruitiness and flavor.
The early bottles were made using 5-gallon buckets in their kitchens, with cheese cloth to strain out the cranberries and oranges.
“Now, we make it in 55-gallon drums,” Field said. “It takes a month to make.”
The second flavor they created is called 5 Lemon Ginger. Just like 5 Cranberry Orange, it includes only five ingredients vodka, lemons, ginger, cane sugar, and water.
“We’re really excited to do a third flavor at some point, maybe something spicy,” Field said.
Every 750 ml bottle has 18 percent alcohol/volume, and is filled and labeled by hand during “bottling parties.”
Unlike most alcohol labels, all ingredients are clearly listed on the front. No chemicals or artificial colors are ever used, and the vodka is distilled in the Midwest from non-GMO corn.
“We like to eat natural foods,” Field said.
Each bottle of 5 Cranberry Orange is infused with 150 Wisconsin cranberries, and each batch of 5 Lemon Ginger is infused with 1,500 lemons.
The vodka-infusion process takes place at the old creamery in Winsted, where Field and Borchart are renting space from owner Jim Koch of K-Way Express.
“We love it out here,” Field said, adding that the creamery has warehouse space and room for growth.
Both flavors 5 Lemon Ginger and 5 Cranberry Orange are currently available at Hussong’s Liquor in Winsted.
“Right now, we’re focused on Minnesota,” Field said, adding that they plan to expand to Wisconsin in the future.
The company name, Mason Dixon Spirits, was chosen because Borchart is from the north, while Field is from the south. (Field grew up in Georgia, and moved to Minnesota 10 years ago.)
“We’re two families that got together,” Field said.
To learn more about Mason Dixon Spirits, click here.