North Dakota's Proof Artisan Distillers' Whiskeys Set Some State Firsts - The Whiskey Wash

North Dakota’s Proof Artisan Distillers’ Whiskeys Set Some State Firsts

If you take a look across the spectrum of distilling state by state here in the United States of America, it becomes quickly evident that some states have a very robust whiskey making scene going on, while others can be about as quiet as it comes. One which falls into this latter category is North Dakota, which seems to have just a handful of active stills despite having a very grain heavy focused agriculture. It is thus quite interesting to learn about Proof Artisan Distillers and the handful of whiskeys they are producing there, which recently went on sale outside of their home state.

Proof Artisan Distillers got its start just a few years ago, and is housed in a renovated 1928 building in downtown Fargo, North Dakota. Included in its tasting room is an ornate bar that dates back to circa 1892. It is from here visitors can taste the two whiskeys currently on the menu at this distillery. The first is the more recently released Proof Crooked Furrow Harvest Blend Bourbon. It is said to be distilled on site from a blend of locally harvested grains, including corn and malted barley. It is noted by Fargo Monthly as North Dakota’s first ever legally produced bourbon, and looks to be pricing for at least $45.

“The name ‘Crooked Furrow’ obviously comes from furrows that are created when you plant corn,” Proof Artisan distiller Jeremy Meidinger told Fargo Monthly. “But grandpa always said, ‘Corn grows better in a crooked furrow’. Of course, he just said that because he drove crooked.”

Glen Fargo American Malt Whiskey

Glen Fargo American Malt Whiskey (image via Proof Artisan Distillers)

Alongside this bourbon is the distillery’s Glen Fargo American Malt Whiskey. This particular American single malt whiskey is said to have been double barrel aged, first in new American oak and then a finishing period in a used bourbon barrel. It is reportedly North Dakota’s first batch of single malt whiskey distilled since prohibition, and is distilled from North Dakota malted barley. Glen Fargo looks to be pricing for at least $75 a bottle.

This single malt has a rather interesting back story to it. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the trade group which represents Scotland’s whisky distilleries, gets very particular when and if they feel a distillery somewhere else in the world may be doing something which potentially infringes upon aspects of Scotch, such as naming. Years ago the Association went after the Glenora Distillery in Canada over the use of the word Glen in its whiskies. The distillery ultimately won the right in court to keep Glen in its bottlings.

The SWA, upon learning recently of Proof Artisan Distillers’ use of the word Glen in its new American single malt, decided to ping the small North Dakota distillery over its concerns. The Scotsman reported that, a week before a trademark deadline related to the filing of the whiskey name, the trade group “filed a protest with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, saying Glen Fargo would be confusing to consumers who may believe it is a Scottish product.” The Americans and Scots ultimately settled the dispute peacefully with some wording modifications, avoiding what would likely have been a costly court battle.

About the author

    Nino Marchetti

    Nino Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and provided tasting input on many whiskeys at competitions. He also maintains a large private collection of whiskey from which he continually educates his palate on this brown spirit type.