Sips of History

When Nathan Greenawalt released his first Old Sugar Factory Honey Liqueur out of Old Sugar Distillery in February, he generated quite a buzz. Madison “has embraced the microbrewery revolution and has a strong attraction to locally made products,” says Greenawalt, who now produces two liquors at the distillery—Old Sugar Factory Honey Liqueur and Cane and Abe Freshwater Rum—and offers tours, tastings and cocktails two evenings a week.

Greenawalt, who is both owner and head distiller, says his customers love to visit the distillery to “see and learn how the product is made. It is a much more personal experience than going to the liquor store for a bottle of mass-produced spirits.” Customers also revel in a unique piece of Madison history: From 1906 to 1924, the U.S. Sugar Company processed locally grown sugar beets at a factory on Madison’s east side, producing fifty tons of sugar a day. Although Old Sugar Distillery is not located at the site of the original factory, Greenawalt says he “pays homage to Madison’s brief but spirited sugar beet history” by using Midwestern-grown dark brown beet sugar in his liqueur, which is aged in American oak barrels and sweetened with Wisconsin honey.

Every Thursday and Friday evening from 4 to 10 p.m., you can find Greenawalt behind the bar or giving tours of the distillery. Stop by to indulge your taste for Madison history and local products—a taste of honey liqueur or freshwater rum will leave you feeling sweet indeed.

Old Sugar Distillery, 931 E. Main St. 695-7686.

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