The Windsor Independent
Jan. 15, 2016
For some, giving up after 13 years on Wall Street might signal defeat, but not for Rifino Valentine, owner and president of Valentine’s Distillery, who gave it all up to open up a small batch distillery focused on becoming a household name by producing the world’s best spirits.
And he’s doing a good job. With nine industry gold medals for their vodka, gin and cask gin, and a double gold medal for their vodka.
With his distillery and separate taproom located in Ferndale Michigan, Valentine explained that the moment of inspiration struck when he ordered a martini in a bar and was dismayed to be offered Grey Goose as the top-shelf brand.
“It was literally when I was having a martini in a bar and I was just like ‘Grey Goose, again, as the best in the world?,” he expressed. “I know this is mass produced… and I said, ‘Let’s do what we used to do in this country, let’s do it better.”
By focusing on the craft aspect and distilling in small batches, Valentine is able to make his mark in the distillation world.
“That’s what you do, you can only take so many shortcuts before the product ends up suffering.” he said. “Companies used to be successful because they made the best product, now it’s not that way anymore, you’re successful if you’re the most profitable, the product suffers in the end.”
Regardless of the size or reach the brand attains, Valentine maintains he will employ the same techniques. “We still have to use these same techniques. Maybe we’ll get bigger tanks, bigger batch sizes, but it’ll always be this type of distillation… we throw away a lot of batches…that aren’t good, we toss them.”
“It’s really more that mentality that we won’t cut corners, we’re going to do this the right way,” he said, before adding, “in my case, my name is on the damn bottles… it’s gotta be good.”
Currently Valentine Distillery’s only Canadian distributor is the Dominion House in Sandwich, but the brand is also distributed internationally.
“I always think about the guy in London or Rome… in a craft cocktail bar, I think it’s so exciting that our product can get there, and he can enjoy a quality product over there.” Valentine said. “I want it to be available to most people … but still retain that craft quality”
Jon Liedtke was a co-owner and business development manager for The Windsor Independent.