Renee Bemis, Driftless Glen are Bottling American Spirit
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Driftless Glen Founder Renee Bemis is Bottling a Taste of the American Spirit

Renee Bemis, co-owner of Driftless Glen distillery, has indescribable energy and is clearly the heart and spirit of the Driftless Glen Distillery.

Fifteen minutes into my meeting with Renee, I already feel like I’m part of the Driftless family. Renee and her husband are co-owners and founders of the brand and share a passion for creating a unique and unforgettable experience for their patrons.

Driftless Glen

Driftless Glen Distillery Owners Brian & Reneé Bemis. Image via Driftless Glen.

Part of that uniqueness comes from the distillery’s location along the Baraboo River, the longest mainstream restored free-flowing river in America. It aids in a beautiful setting for the distillery. It provides incredible water from the Driftless area, which is “distinctive from the rest of the world because of the specific combination of temperature, water, soil and weather. All combine to form our remarkable spirits,” according to Driftless Glen’s website.

However, the most striking attribute that distinguishes Driftless from its counterparts is the palpable joy that could be felt through our Zoom meeting.

“Oh, I love all of it,” Renee said when asked about her favorite part of running the distillery. “If I’m here at the distillery during dinner or lunch where there’s a lot of people, I’ll get behind the bar. I’ll let the bartenders make me a big batch of something, and then I’ll go around and do samples.”

Driftless Glen

Food and cocktails from the Driftless Glen five-star restaurant at the distillery. Image via Driftless Glen.

In addition to its esteemed whiskey, the distillery also boasts a five-star restaurant, infusing its spirits into every recipe. Speaking of, if you get the chance to visit in person, Renee recommends ordering the BlackBerry bourbon old-fashioned, her favorite Driftless Glen cocktail.

The distillery is not exclusive to making whiskey. It produces bourbon, rye, brandy, vodka and gin. Notably, hand sanitizer is not on its list of products — like many other distilleries during the pandemic. Instead, Driftless Glen took another approach.

“We just donated [ethanol] to so many hospitals. We’d give them 20 gallons or 50 gallons of ethanol,” Bemis said about why the distillery decided against producing hand sanitizer. “That made a huge amount of hand sanitizer for them. And that’s what we did during that whole thing. And I think that helped.”

Growing Distribution

If you’re hoping to pick up one of Driftless Glen’s bottles, you are in luck. The list of states and countries carrying Driftless Glen products grows by the day. Thankfully, the bottles are easy to distinguish, square and including both owners’ thumbprints.

Driftless Glen

Driftless Glen’s iconic square bottles. Image via Driftless Glen.

When asked what inspired the unusual shape, Renee responded, “There aren’t many square bottles out there. My husband and my thumbprints are on either side, and the back is an embossed windmill which is our insignia. My theory behind it was someone would go, God, I can’t remember, but it’s a square bottle with thumbprints on it, and that’s why we did it that way.”

Renee is also looking forward to some of the new varieties coming soon. “We’ve got a single malt in the house aging. We have a smoke whiskey aging. So, we have some things that are just different, special. They’re exclusive for here.” It makes it worth the trip to visit the distillery in person.

If you’re ever in the area, be sure to stop by and experience the passion of Renee Bemis for yourself. You won’t regret it! And if you can’t make it in person, be sure to check out the spirits online. I promise you won’t find a better craft distillery that embodies the heart and soul of Wisconsin, quite like Driftless Glen.

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