By Debbie Hall
Moonshine and liqueur might be a dichotomy to some, but North Dakota Sweet Crude Liqueur combines smokehouse moonshine with smoothness.
Their products are unique as 75-proof liqueurs, which is higher than most liqueurs, yet still very smooth, unlike other high-proof spirits.
The two flavor profiles create bookends for the human palate, and the mouth feel provided by the real caramelized sugar is a unique aspect of the products. From a marketing perspective, the brand is associated with a state with a persona of a group of nice, honest, hardworking hometown people with rugged individualism from a state not known for distilleries.
Its history begins when the Weidners, who are German, immigrated to America to western North Dakota by way of Ukraine in the early 1900s. At the time, North Dakota was dry, so that Martin Weidner would distill spirits in the family smokehouse.
Founded in 1913 along a Northern Pacific Railway branch line, celebrations in the small town 100 years ago were toasted with Martin Weidner’s smokehouse moonshine, also known as “wedding whiskey,” which was described as a crude spirit. Martin passed his recipe on to his children, who would then share it with their children. Tweaks would be made, but everyone would remain true to the recipe.
“I remember my first taste of North Dakota Sweet Crude. The family was celebrating Grandpa and Grandma Weidner’s 50th anniversary in Beulah [North Dakota] at the Veteran of Foreign Wars club. It was a large, rowdy get-together with music, food, and dancing,” says Arthur Weidner, owner. He was given a taste and loved it.
Arthur and his brother Christian would distill the family recipe for their enjoyment and hand out bottles as gifts. Soon, their neighbors and friends asked for more, so Arthur and Christian wrote a business plan to develop the distillery. The name “North Dakota Sweet Crude” honors the region and its history, launching Doodlebug Beverages and its line of Crude Spirits.
“Crude in the name is for the spirit that used to be distilled in an unrefined fashion. We still source locally produced agricultural products. Corn and sugar beets are grown on our family farm in the Red River Valley, making it farm-to-table,” he says.
The white sugar produced from the sugar beets is caramelized in the clean room on machinery developed and built with the help of North Dakota State University engineering students. The products are distilled in partnership with Chris Montana, former president of the American Craft Spirit Association and owner of Du Nord Craft Spirits.
Along with North Dakota Sweet Crude Liqueur, Sweet Crude Orange was produced for the brand. Both liqueurs use an herbal tea blend and can be enjoyed straight, on the rocks, or used in one of more than 80 cocktail recipes. The brands are distributed in hundreds of markets and online, as well as served in hundreds of establishments. More than a dozen A-B houses have picked up the liqueurs for distribution.
According to Future Moonshine Market, “the market of moonshine is projected to grow at a robust CAGR of 6.6 percent between 2022 and 2032, totaling around $314.5 million by the end of 2032.” Beverage Dynamics reports that liqueurs are a frequent ingredient in many popular cocktails. FiftySeven Daily is quoted as, “A shift in the type of premium liquor people seek out, mindful moderation, and the evolution of newly embraced formats are just some of the spirits trends that look set to shape how people drink over the coming months.”
Consumers want to know the backstory and how a spirit is produced, and Crude Spirits are the perfect addition for retailers, restaurants, bars, and lounges. Doodlebug Beverages also support several charities at various localities within its distribution territory as part of its presence.
For more information, visit crudespirits.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @ crudespirits and Twitter @ crudespiritsND.
Denomination: Sweet Liqueurs
Alcohol percentage: 37,5 % Vol
Color: Deep Brown
SCO: Orange blossom, citrus tones and vanilla
NDSC: Cinnamon to caramel and black tea
SCO: From orange to caramel, cinnamon and cardamom.
NDSC: Strong cinnamon flavor and lingering notes of citrus, ginger, and lemon grass, very smooth, no burn
Food match: Fruit-based desserts, ice creams, holiday desserts, and ideal to prepare cocktails
Temperature of service: -10 – 10 ° C
Glass recommended: Cup
Conservation: Cold storage
½ shot North Dakota Sweet Crude
½ shot Sweet Crude Orange
Dollop of whipping cream
Mix the two chilled liqueurs in a small glass and top off with the cream
2 ounces Sweet Crude Orange
3 ounces Sprite, 7-Up, Sierra Mist
1 ounces orange juice
Mix and serve on ice and top with an orange wedge
Dakota Sweet Lemonade
2 ounces North Dakota Sweet Crude
4 ounces Lemonade
Combine together and pour over ice.