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Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery, Swisher

4.1
#3 of 25 in Breweries & Distilleries in Iowa
Must see · Distillery · Winery / Vineyard
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In a world weary of “craft” this and “small batch” that, Cedar Ridge Distillery is a refreshing change. In 2005, Jeff Quint -- ninth-generation farmer and fermenter -- followed his heart from accountancy back to his distilling roots when he and his wife Laurie opened Cedar Ridge, the first licensed distillery in the state of Iowa since Prohibition. In the ten short years since their first release, Cedar Ridge whiskeys have won national and international acclaim, led by their Iowa corn Bourbon Whiskey, made of corn from their own fields.



About Jeff Quint

Jeff Quint grew up in eastern Iowa, part of a large, traditional farming family. He followed a finance career until 2005, when he returned to the Quint family roots. Johann Jakob Quint had settled on the Mosel River in Wintrich, Germany in the early 1700s to establish Weingut Quint, which remains a prominent Mosel winery to this day. Jeff’s great-grandfather, John Quint, then emigrated to eastern Iowa from Wintrich in 1881, bringing the family trade with him. Alongside his father, Howard Quint, Jeff harvested and pressed apples from their orchard, which they made into wine and brandy; their old press and copper pot still are on display at Cedar Ridge today.

In February, 2016, when accepting an award for the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance “Small Business of the Year,” Jeff explained: “The whole premise behind starting Cedar Ridge Distillery was that Iowa makes more corn than any state in the country, and that most distilled spirits are made from corn. Yet, before Cedar Ridge, we Iowans were importing 100% of the $300 million in distilled spirits we consume annually. We’re literally sending our money to other states and other countries to make spirits out of our own raw materials. Reversing that statistic, and becoming exporters rather than importers, will have a tremendously positive economic impact on our area.”

About Cedar Ridge Distillery

Cedar Ridge Distillery is set amid rolling corn fields in bucolic Swisher, Iowa, which is located about a ten-minute drive from both Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. The distillery is a favorite local attraction for tours and tastings, as well as excellent yet casual dining including brick-oven wood-fired pizzas; local vegetables, cheeses and charcuterie; and a popular Friday Night Grill. Live music generally plays on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons, and other events include yoga, dinner theatre, and open air painting, to name a few. The distillery is frequently rented for weddings and corporate events, with options including an event hall, the tasting room, a board room, several patios, and even the lawn.

About Cedar Ridge Whiskeys

Head Distiller Kolin Brighton joined Cedar Ridge in 2009, transitioning from professional chef to professional fermenter/distiller. Kolin explains that the disciplines are similar: both require the best ingredients, the most careful and thoughtful techniques, and understanding of how to balance flavors to create optimum results. The critics seem to agree, as Cedar Ridge whiskeys consistently win gold and double-gold medals in leading spirits competitions in the U.S. and abroad.

The lead expression is Cedar Ridge Iowa Bourbon Whiskey, first released in 2010 and made of 74% corn grown on the family property, 14% toasted rye, and 12% malted barley. At most, Kolin can produce 4 barrels of whiskey per day, using Cedar Ridge’s three small copper pot stills, custom-engineered in Germany by CARL (est. 1856). Other whiskeys include Cedar Ridge Wheat Whiskey, Cedar Ridge Malted Rye, and Cedar Ridge Single Malt, all retailing in the $35-$45/750mL range.

Cedar Ridge whiskeys are defined by a notably clean, subtle taste profile, which is achieved by fermenting off the grain (separating the fresh wort from the grain immediately after mashing), and double-distilling the resulting wash to 148-150 proof (vs. the more common 134-136 proof), which removes impurities and further contributes to the whiskeys’ pure, approachable character.

Another uniting characteristic is aging in non-temperature controlled barns, called “rick houses”; Iowa’s fluctuating temperatures force the American White Oak barrels to expand and contract, drawing the whiskey into and out of the wood pores, imparting the woods’ rich aromas and flavors more quickly than in other regions; on the downside, Mother Nature then takes an 18% cut, vs. the more traditional 12% “angel’s share” lost in industrial aging facilities.

Visiting Cedar Ridge

The tasting room and gift shop are open year-round, as are dining options; free tours (no appointment necessary) are offered on Saturdays and Sundays at 1 pm and 3 pm. There is always something new to see at Cedar Ridge Distillery: right now, Cedar Ridge is constructing its own sustainable stillage reclamation waterway and an additional 1,800-barrel rick house.
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Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.0
127 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • My husband’s family lives in Iowa… We met some friends for drinks & food here… Loved the food, drinks, the staff, the scenery, the place, etc! Glad we ended up here… We’ll be back! 
    My husband’s family lives in Iowa… We met some friends for drinks & food here… Loved the food, drinks, the staff, the scenery, the place, etc! Glad we ended up here… We’ll be back!  more »
  • I have been here many times! Their Sunday Brunch is unparalleled. Get some bacon and pancakes with some bourbon maple syrup and then head to the mimosa bar. Their wood-fired pizzas are all fantastic.....  more
    I have been here many times! Their Sunday Brunch is unparalleled. Get some bacon and pancakes with some bourbon maple syrup and then head to the mimosa bar. Their wood-fired pizzas are all fantastic.....  more »
Google
  • Planning a wedding miles away is not only challenging but also frightening. You have to rely & believe in vendors and people via email and phone call only. Choosing Cedar Ridge for my wedding venue and working with Jessica and her team was the best decision I made & one that I’ll make again and again for future events. The place is breathless with all the grapevines. It almost felt like you’re in middle of Tuscan but at a much reasonable budget. The food was plentiful & 5 star chief quality. Jessica and her team made it all a dream by their helpful service & smiles. They even went above duty & took a stressful step from me in the process. It was heartwarming to walk in the room after our ceremony and find everything so magical. It truly left a special touch in our heart along with all of my guests and family. There’s really not enough words that could express our appreciation & love for Cedar Ridge, we are truly grateful❣️
  • This place is truly exceptional. Fantastic service. Pizzas were 5*. Wine and bourbon flights. Delicious ice cream. Cold brew. Sitting by the vineyards. What could be better? 5* recommend - can’t wait to return! Thank you Abby!

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