ADRIAN – A distillery with roots in northern Michigan and a downtown storefront Adrian is looking to expand its customer base in southern Michigan and aims to open a distilling facility potentially in Lenawee County.
Mammoth Distilling, which opened at 108 E. Maumee St. in Adrian on Nov. 20, 2020, is looking to operate a distillation center in lower Michigan so those who enjoy drinking vodka, gin and whiskey can have more products available for them.
Mammoth produces its own alcohol and is a popular destination in northern Michigan, with locations in Bay Harbor, Bellaire and Traverse City. Mammoth got its start in Central Lake, and Adrian is its southernmost location. Its owners hope to reach more customers in southern Michigan by expanding operations and adding a distillery south of the state capital.
“All of our production takes place in Central Lake. Our other tasting rooms across the state are more centrally located in (Central Lake). As we continue to expand throughout (the southern half of Michigan), we just want to have a central production hub here to distribute to stores,” Mammoth Distilling general manager Jude Walser said in an interview. “There are new things happening that are in the works. It took about a year and a half to get here and we’re almost there.
As one of the first steps in its expansion process, Mammoth is evaluating some of the best locations to operate a distillery. Prominent localities so far include Chelsea, Adrian and Tecumseh, according to Adrian’s Town Administrator Greg Elliott, who discussed Mammoth’s expansion with Adrian’s Town Commission on December 19.
Elliott said Mammoth and the city have been in talks about expanding his business for some time. Conversations about the potential opening of a distillery by Mammoth on just over 5 acres of land at the end of Enterprise Drive in Adrian’s Industrial Park along US 223 near Adrian’s entrance College are underway, he said.
The particular location on Enterprise Drive has a nice synergy with the college, Elliott said. It’s possible the college will work with Mammoth on programs related to the science of distillation, he said.
Tecumseh also offered Mammoth a location in its industrial park, Elliott said. Discussions and negotiations are ongoing between all parties.
“Nothing is set in stone yet,” Walser said Dec. 30. “There are still a lot of moving parts.”
According to Elliott, the distillery itself will be an industrial operation with three or four trucks a day coming and going from the facility. This is not an operation that would be feasible in a downtown business district.
Lenawee County, meanwhile, is ideal for Mammoth, said Downtown Adrian Main Street executive director Jay Marks.
“(Mammoth’s) waste is the spent grains,” he said. “The biggest consumers of draff are dairy farms. Lenawee County has the largest population of dairy farms in the state of Michigan. It is therefore important for them to be here for this proximity.
In his seven years on the city commission, Commissioner Lad Strayer said he’s seen Adrian lose multiple times to companies that wanted to do something similar to what Mammoth Distilling aspires to and end up moving to. other communities. He told Elliott to negotiate a sale with Mammoth which keeps them invested in Adrian and with a production center in Adrian as well.
“I don’t want to see us lose this time,” Strayer said.
The location in the industrial park would fall to the Maple Woods manufactured home community, which has homes on Beachwood Drive, the road directly west of Enterprise Drive. The mobile home community is surrounded by industrial estate land, Elliott said.
Asked by Commissioner Mary Roberts if smells from a distillery would be a problem for nearby residents, Elliott and Marks both replied that it shouldn’t be.
Every smell is special to people in some way, but the industry in general smells, Elliott said. It is incumbent on people, he said, to be aware of their surroundings when they move or choose to live somewhere.
“This area was zoned industrial for a long, long time. It’s not like we’re creating anything new here,” he said. “It would be a much different story if we were to rezone the land to industrial.”
The smell a distillery should give off is that of a bakery, Marks said. There shouldn’t be a strong smell of alcohol in the air.
“I wouldn’t expect noxious odors to come out of it,” he said.