Perhaps you’ve never heard of Kernza, a perennial grain. Yet the drought-tolerant grass might just show up in your next happy hour, as Tattersall Distilling Co. releases its new Tattersall Kernza Perennial Grain Whiskey.
It is the first 100% Kernza whiskey in the country, and it is being launched with a tasting and celebration on April 29 in River Falls.
Jon Kreidler is chief officer of Tattersall Distilling Company, which he co-founded with his childhood friend Dan Oskey in Minneapolis in 2015. In 2021, they crossed over the Wisconsin border and opened a 75,000-square-foot tasting room, restaurant and event space in a former Shopko in River Falls. It is home to the largest solar array of any craft distillery in the nation, plus a first of its kind water reclamation system.
Tattersall was tapped by the Land Institute of Kansas and the University of Minnesota’s Forever Green initiative to see if there was an interest in working with the perennial. Sustainability is a large part of Tattersall’s approach.
Whiskey made with Kernza is a test and an experiment for the distillery, and part of a growing goal for the perennial grain. This has been years in the making, starting with the investment in the grains and a farmer in Cambridge, Minn., who grows them for the distillery.
“Bang Brewing, a really cool brewery out of St. Paul, has featured Kernza. Dogfish Head has made beer with it, but at the time we started nobody was distilling,” said Kreidler.
While there is still a learning curve for growing and using Kernza, which is the first commercially available perennial grain, Kreidler sees it as worth the investment. Interest is growing as availability continues to move forward.
“The concept of the perennial grain itself, if you aren’t tearing up the land, you aren’t releasing a lot of carbon. If you can avoid that, it is pretty awesome,” Kreidler said. “In addition, the Kernza taproot is between 8 and 15 feet, so it is a drought-resistant grain, which is super important.”
“Kernza has only really been on the landscape in a modestly signficant way since about 2019,” said Kimbler. “That is when the first commercial acreage started to be produced.”
Kimbler added, “Perennial means that Kernza is planted once, and it grows and produces grain for four to five years without having to replant it. You don’t have to till the fields.”
On April 29 in collaboration with the Wisconsin DNR, Tattersall will launch the Kernza perennial grain whiskey and give away 1,400 trees in honor of Arbor Day.
“We’ve always been about what drives us for the future. I’ve got kids, most of the guys on the team do too. There is relation business wise, but it is the right thing to do, and what everybody should be doing. We think everybody will get there eventually,” Kreidler said.
Kernza is just the beginning for Tattersall’s search for sustainable sips. The distillery is also looking at pea protein.
For more information please visit https://www.tattersalldistilling.com/