Far North Spirits

TEAM

Michael and Cheri returned home after 25 years and built Far North Spirits in 2013 on the family's 100-year-old farm. Michael is a fourth generation Minnesota farmer and the first in his family to marry farming with distilling.

 
 
 
portraits by Megan Sugden

portraits by Megan Sugden

MICHAEL SWANSON + CHERI REESE, OWNERS

Michael and Cheri returned home after 25 years and built Far North Spirits in 2013 on the family's 100-year-old farm. Michael is a fourth generation Minnesota farmer and the first in his family to marry farming with distilling.

They envisioned a portfolio of spirits focused on provenance: heritage and non-GMO grains, rich Red River Valley soil, pristine Lake Agassiz aquifer water, expertly-made Minnesota barrels, and their own Scandinavian heritage. They steadfastly believe in making the best spirits they possibly can.

Michael oversees all aspects of production from the seeds that are planted in the fields to the spirits that are put in the bottle. Cheri heads up sales, promotion and marketing.

Michael’s background includes research, technical service, sales and marketing in Denver and St. Paul. He holds an MBA from the University of St. Thomas and a BS in biology/chemistry from Concordia College, Moorhead. Cheri spent 20 years in public relations in Minneapolist-St.Paul prior to starting Far North Spirits. She holds a BA in English from Minnesota State University, Moorhead. 

They spend every spare minute with their brood of critters –Weston, Millie, Ryely, Boo and Eeep.

FAVORITE COCKTAIL
Michael: SAZERAC
Cheri: NEGRONI

 

 
 
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PJ Zavada

PJ is Far North’s Minnesota Sales Manager, bringing 15 years of experience as an off-premise spirits and beer buyer in Minneapolis - Saint Paul to the team.

He’s thrilled to be a part of Far North and give extra support to our customers throughout our home state. His passion for high quality and interesting spirits is immediately evident.

When he’s not busy working, he enjoys fishing, golfing and, in his words, “attempting to cook”. Spending time on the North Shore with his wife and dog is a favorite way to unwind.

You can reach him at PJ@farnorthspirits.com

Favorite Cocktail: NEGRONI

 

 
 
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Rebecca Poulton

Rebecca is Far North’s production assistant by day, doing all aspects of production including milling grains, running mashes, transferring fermented grains to the still, bottling spirits and filling barrels. You can also find her in our cocktail room most Saturday nights, making drinks and making everyone feel like they’ve come to the best place around.

An avid women’s right’s activist, AND true crime and horror fanatic, she’s also the lucky parent of two dogs – Lola and Monet – and one cat, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. In her free time, you can find her listening to a podcast or playing video games.

Favorite Cocktail: Old Fashioned

Favorite book: Southern Reach Trilogy by jeff vandermeer

 

 
 
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Gerald + Shirley Carlson

Gerald and Shirley mix things up behind the bar at Far North on Saturdays. They share a storyline with Mike and Cheri in that they returned to Kennedy, where Shirley grew up, after careers in Minneapolis.

Gerald grew up in Big Falls, MN, a timber logging community. He holds a doctorate in psychology and was department head at Fairview Hospital’s mental health department for many years.

Shirley spent most of her career as director of administration for the YMCA of the USA. They are enthusiastic about food, wine, cocktails and travel. And, they agree that early retirement and the move back to Kittson County in 2009 has been their best decision ever.  

Favorite cocktail
Gerald: Sazerac
Shirley: Basil Smash

 

 
 
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Joan Osowski

Joan manages Far North's cocktail room and event space. She grew up in Hallock and returned to the area after graduating from college with a degree in Hospitality Management. She enjoys cooking, quilting and traveling, and visiting her grown kids Justin, Kaylee and Natalie.

She and her husband Terry live and farm west of Hallock with their dog Misty. She loves being part of a small town where everyone is friendly and cares about what happens in the community.

Favorite cocktail: naomi younggren redux

 

 
 
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AARON ALBEE

Aaron is Far North’s brand ambassador in Minneapolis-St. Paul. He interned with Far North in 2014 and brings his knowledge of production and distilling with him to every metro-area tasting.

He is passionate about craft spirits and experimenting with cocktails, often enlisting wife Meghan and friends to distinguish subtle flavor differences among his original cocktail creations. The furry trio of Dexter (black lab mix), T’Challa and Stasi (cats) keeps things humming on the home front. 

You can find him on weekends pouring Far North Spirits and spinning a tale or two.

Favorite Cocktail:
The Last Word