In Ireland, a popular drink is whiskey mixed with red…
Mark Gongalski and Allen Serio met in 2010, bonding over craft brews during their time at Unruly Brewing Company. The passion, community and growing maturity of the craft beer industry in West Michigan got them thinking: Could they be part of the efforts to build the same level of support and consideration for distilleries as the one they’d seen grow around craft beer?
The timing wasn’t right then, but the seed was planted: And in late 2018, Wonderland Distilling Co. was born. For the now CEO and CMO, respectively, the journey has been an adventure, to say the least.
In early 2019, the company purchased its current production space, setting up shop to begin the patient process of barrel-aging their own whiskey. And when new state legislation in December 2019 allowed distilleries to conduct production and sales in separate buildings, this duo began to put in motion plans for the offsite cocktail bar of their dreams.
Getting the lease in June 2019, construction delays postponed their initial target opening date of fall 2019. Then COVID hit.
Not to be deterred, the team was more motivated than ever to continue innovating — and sharing their story. “Have you ever seen the vintage Michigan license plate with the inscription, ‘winter, water, wonderland’?” Serio asked emphatically when touring the new tasting room. “That was our inspiration for the name. We wanted to capture the natural beauty of our home state, inviting others to find their wonderland and share in ours alongside us. It’s this spirit of adventure we wanted to bottle up, for people near and far to relate to.”
From locally-sourced ingredients (like Michigan apples for the in-house apple liqueur, coffee from Drip Drop Drink nearby, and locally-grown wheat and rye) to Michigan-made pot stills, the local love runs deep. And, they’ve partnered with distilleries across the state for the individually-aged wheat and rye whiskeys that make up their first blend of straight whiskeys, now available in select stores.