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Vodka based and launched in Jackson earns silver medal in international spirits competition

JACKSON, Michigan – A vodka launched in Jackson has earned a prestigious award at an international tasting competition.

North River Vodka, which was launched in 2018 at Grand River Brewery in downtown Jackson and is owned by Jackson residents Chris and Amanda Iott, was awarded a silver medal by the American Distilling Institute in its 2022 International Spirits Competition. The results of the annual competition were released today.


“There are a lot of spirits competitions out there,” Chris Iott said. “The American Distilling Institute competition is the best. It’s the only one we’ve entered. We are proud of our product and couldn’t be more excited to earn an award and so many positive comments from the ADI judges.”


North River Vodka was tasted and evaluated blind by four expert spirit judges, who scored the vodka. The panel’s anchor judge then tallied the score to begin a discussion on what medal, if any, should be awarded. The ADI doesn’t specify how many medals of each type should be awarded so that all medals “are earned solely based on the quality of the spirit in the glass.”


Judges’ comments included the following:


• "Approachable nose. Soft and slow progression down the palate with a subtle spice."

• "Nice, bright and clear."

• "Very pleasant, rounded palate. Classic potato nose."

• "Nice creamy texture, soft sweetness and good balance."


“Most vodkas are filtered to the point that they just taste like, well, alcohol,” Amanda Iott said. “We don’t filter the life out of our vodka, and the feedback from the judges reflects that. North River Vodka retains some of the character from the potatoes, which means it has a bit of sweet earthiness to it. It’s great in a ton of different drinks, including Bloody Marys and mules or even just over ice with a few drops of sweetened lime juice in it.”


North River Vodka launched in October 2018 and was available only at Grand River Brewery until October 2019, when it went into statewide distribution. It is distilled in Traverse City through a partnership with Grand Traverse Distillery and is produced from potatoes grown in Kalkaska by Iott Seed Farms, the family farm Chris grew up on. It is distributed by Imperial Beverage.


“Amanda and I have lived in Michigan for our entire lives and in Jackson for the past 20 years,” Chris Iott said. “We really claim three hometowns for our vodka due to our ties to Jackson, Kalkaska and Traverse City. But Jackson is where we got our start in the vodka business and we’re grateful for all the support we’ve received from stores, restaurants and vodka lovers in the area.”


North River Vodka is available in about 100 stores, restaurants and bars in Michigan, including several in the Jackson area. All seven Polly’s Country Markets locations carry North River Vodka, as does Super Liquor, Kibby Cobb Market, Axe Play and Veritas. It is available in seven Mega-Bev locations across the state, four Total Wine and More stores, three urban-based Meijer neighborhood market stores and all five of Grand Traverse Distillery’s tasting rooms.


“We’re very thankful to Grand Traverse Distillery for working with potatoes from the family’s farm to make an award-winning vodka,” Amanda Iott said. “We’re extremely proud of this award. Grand Traverse Distillery should be, too.”



Chris Iott, co-owner and cofounder