A Muskegon distillery won four medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Wonderland Distilling said Tuesday, April 12, it earned its first gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC), for its Wonderland Single Malt Whiskey Aged in Apple Brandy Barrels. The whiskey was praised for its “smoothness, warm cinnamon and allspice tasting notes and a lingering apple finish,” the distillery said.
Founded in 2000, SFWSC is one of the oldest and largest competitions of its kind, the organization said. Its judges hail from all over the world and have decades of industry experience.
Wonderland also took silver medals for its Cask Strength Blend of Straight Whiskeys and its Unaged Single Malt Whiskey and a bronze for its original Blend of Straight Whiskeys.
“We are pleased that all of our whiskey entries received honors in San Francisco, but the gold medal for our apple brandy-aged Single Malt Whiskey recognizes the creativity and innovation of our distilling team on a global stage,” said Mark Gongalski, CEO of Wonderland Distilling. “Not only does this show to the world that we are capable of competing, but also that this humble Muskegon distillery is ready to craft a new legacy for Michigan spirits.”
Wonderland’s Single Malt Whiskey Aged in Apple Brandy Barrels was released to the public in fall 2021 in limited quantities. It is the distillery’s first whiskey produced completely in house. Distilled from mash, it is bottled at 82 proof. Wonderland will launch its second bottling this spring.
Wonderland’s Cask Strength Blend of Straight Whiskeys was released to the public in May 2021, also in limited quantities. The whiskey is bottled at full cask strength, 119.85 proof, and fewer than 300 bottles from the first cask-strength batch were released.
Wonderland Unaged Single Malt Whiskey also is produced completely in-house. It presents a “soft, slightly sweet biscuit taste with hints of stone fruit,” Wonderland said. The white whiskey is “aged” in American oak barrels for two minutes and 31 seconds before being bottled on site, a nod to the distillery’s 231 telephone area code.
Wonderland’s blended whiskeys come together using the traditional Canadian method, with each grain — corn, wheat and rye — distilled on its own. By distilling, barreling and aging them separately, then blending them after maturation, Wonderland aims to create a consistent flavor profile.
Both of Wonderland’s first whiskey releases are created primarily from individually aged, Michigan-distilled rye and wheat whiskeys from partnering distilleries across the state, hand-blended to create a specific taste profile. Wonderland also began distilling its own whiskey in 2020.
“Not only has this team doubled the medal count from 2021, but our San Francisco gold medal is the direct result of our own distillation work, which continues to push the limits of what is possible,” said Allen Serio, chief marketing officer at Wonderland. “The recognition has us motivated, and to celebrate, we are releasing a new single malt nearly every month, all of which will showcase the flavor of our great state.”