Iron Fish Distillery launches new whiskey

The new Iron Fish Copper Queen Whiskey bottle.

THOMPSONVILLE— Iron Fish Distillery has created a new whiskey and named it for a spirit first sold in 1914 in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula.

Copper Queen Whiskey arrived in stores in May, according to a release.

The distillery chose the name and designed the label to act as a postcard for Copper Country, Iron Fish Distillery Partner Richard Anderson said in the release.

The 86-proof Copper Queen™ Whiskey blends the sweetness of corn, the earthiness of malted barley and the fruity spice of rye, Anderson said.

According to the release, a young Italian immigrant named Narisco Bianchi settled in Red Jacket, Michigan, in 1897, worked as a teamster for the Calumet Brewing Company and then opened a saloon. Around 1914, Bianchi began marketing Copper Queen "high grade" blended whiskey — most likely a product he purchased and relabeled.

Prohibition, which began in 1920 and lasted until 1933, drove many alcohol brands out of business. Copper Queen Whiskey disappeared.

The community of Red Jacket was renamed Calumet in 1929. The Red Jacket Brewing Company today serves beer in downtown Calumet.

Local business owners Jerry and Sandy Michelle, the release stated, found an original bottle of the old Copper Queen Whiskey, and advocated for the reintroduction of the spirit.

Anderson in the past worked on a variety of community and economic development initiatives across the Upper Peninsula. He was the founding CEO of the Northern Initiatives community development corporation.

Iron Fish Distillery will donate a portion of proceeds from the sale of Copper Queen Whiskey to the historic Calumet Theatre, which has been a part of that community since 1900, Anderson said in the release. The label design is inspired by the many actresses, including Lillian Russell, who performed at the Calumet Theatre during the last century.

The commemorative bottling of Copper Queen is available in 750 ML (43% ABV / 86 proof). More information about the spirit, and locations it is available, can be found at ironfishdistillery.com.

Iron Fish Distillery, which opened in 2016, is a working farm. It grows and sources local grain to distill a line of small-batch craft spirits on a reclaimed 1890’s farmstead near Thompsonville.

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