When 45 Parallel Distillery teams with its partners for a new-product release party, its such a big party that it also requires an after party, meaning the fun goes virtually all day on Saturday, Oct. 1.
The focus is on the “W” wheat whiskey release. The New Richmond-based company is offering its seventh annual open house on the theme “barrels and bluegrass” from noon to 6 p.m., which as you might guess from the name is music that’s heavy on the string band format.
This is a free event held rain or shine, which is important because at this time of year, weather can be a factor to be reckoned with.
A Barley John’s after party (next door) starts at 6 p.m. with the release of the Wheat Wine aged in 45 Parallel whiskey barrels.
In addition to the tasting room and tours, featured during the afternoon will be local food and art vendors and three bands: No Man’s String Band, The May North and High Strung String Band.
The latest CD from the No Man’s String Band hits on an old theme. “All is Fair in Love and Bluegrass,” is the result of three years of growth, lineup changes and a band that celebrates tradition but isn’t constrained by it. “We wanted to record music that was undoubtedly bluegrass, entirely us, and completely approachable for lovers of traditional and original music,” said mandolinist Nic Hentges in their online bio. Formed in 2011, the No Man’s String Band has been hitting the road hard to bring on the bluegrass tradition and its future, breaking new ground. At the time of their debut album, “Let The Truth Be Told,” they began a hosting role on the bluegrass series “Cuttin’ Grass,” as well as being featured on a compilation by Old Hand Record Company. In 2015, they were awarded champions of the Race For a Place contest of the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old Time Music Association.
Members of the No Man’s String Band include Justin Rosckes on guitar, Melissa Hentges on accordion, Nic Hentges on mandolin, Lindsey Bordner on fiddle and Pat Loftus on bass.
The May North is an original band from Minneapolis-St. Paul, with a style steeped in Americana, folk, bluegrass and the blues. Like the group from which they take the stage, The May North has a couple of CD releases on its resume, but unlike the other, has one female singer, not two.
Likewise, the High Strung String Band breathes new life into an old tradition. In some ways, the band pays homage to straight-ahead, traditional bluegrass, as they flat-pick the guitar and also play three-finger-style. But in delivering the foot-stomping, high-and-lonesome, storytelling songs you’d expect from a bluegrass band, they add a spirit and style all their own.
But, as I’m sure the band members will concur, back to the distilling. “When people visit, they are just blown away by the operation,” one of the 45th Parallel marketing people said, as what they offer is not just a keg or two in what often is basically a glorified bar. At 45th Parallel there is a 25-foot ceiling, and the distilling equipment needs to reach right up to the top of it. A real hit with visitors, as far as showing the overall scope of the facility, has been their own brand of whiskey being aged in 600 50-gallon barrels.
Speaking of that whiskey, it is one of the relatively new products that 45th Parallel keeps rolling out, after starting off with its multiple-award winning, signature vodka. That was released well before the current craft beer craze hit the streets.
Growth has been so strong that there are plans to construct another building near New Richmond in the next year or two, which might be the cause for another grand opening and tasting. The people at 45th Parallel have been making the rounds to build the usage of their brands to much more than just the Midwest, and they just got back from a festival in Milwaukee where the goods were touted.
45 Parallel is located at 1570 Madison Avenue in New Richmond. For more information, visit 45thparalleldistillery.com.