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Red Pine Distillery rolls out the barrel for North Dakota Corn Growers Association members

Red Pine Distillery is making bourbon from the corn fields of farmers who are members of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.

A small oak barrel sits between six bottles of bourbon.
Red Pine Distillery in Grand Forks, North Dakota, distilled bourbon for Greg Amundson, a North Dakota Corn Growers Association member, that was made from his corn field.
Contributed / Greg Amundson
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Bourbon batches from corn growers are aging in oak barrels at a Grand Forks distillery.

Red Pine Distillery is distilling corn from farmers who are members of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association. The farmer-members pay Red Pine Distillery to make the bourbon from their home-grown corn.

Tyler Seim, who owns the distillery in west Grand Forks, is mixing the corn, which has to make up 51% of the bourbon, with barley, wheat or rye, depending on what the farmer chooses. The type of grain that is mixed with the corn base affects the flavor. Malted barley, for example, which is the most common, gives it a toasted or nutty flavor.

Like all bourbon, that of North Dakota Corn Growers Association members will be stored in oak barrels while it is aging.

 Two men stand in a distillery.
Greg Amundson, left, a North Dakota Corn Growers Association board member, and Tyler Seim, Red Pine Distillery owner, are pictured Dec. 9, 2022, in the Red Pine Distillery in west Grand Forks.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

In September 2022, Seim and the NDCGA launched the project with Red Pine Distillery , which opened four and a half years ago.

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“Every batch will be unique to your farm,” Seim said.

Seim, who earned a degree in chemical engineering from the University of North Dakota, learned about distillation in college.

“After I graduated, I decided to give it a try," he said.

Farmers who have the bourbon made at Red Pine Distillery will have a custom label on the bottle. The label will give information they want to share such as when the corn was harvested, what the yields were on the field where it was harvested and on which quarter it was grown. They also can choose to include a logo.

Greg Amundson, a North Dakota Corn Growers Association board member from Gilby, North Dakota, has several bottles of Red Pine Distillery bourbon made from one of his corn fields.

A bottle of bourbon with a label.
North Dakota Corn Growers Association members who take their corn to Red Pine Distillery in Grand Forks get a custom label on their bourbon bottles.
Contributed / Greg Amundson

"It's really nice to say that it's something off of your farm," Amundson said.

In spring 2023, Amundson plans to plant 30 acres of Bloody Butcher corn, an heirloom open-pollinated variety, for Red Pine Distillery.

Seim has previously contracted with a North Dakota farmer for a small amount of wheat that is used in his whiskeys.

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Red Pine Distillery’s products, which also include vodka, rum and liqueur, are distributed and sold in North Dakota. The vodka and rum are made with sugarbeets and the liqueurs have a sugarbeet base with flavors added to it.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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