Randy Mann has a longstanding passion for the process of making alcoholic beverages. Once, while making beer, he ended up with a batch that he just didn't like. He was going to throw it out, but a friend talked him into distilling it. He became intrigued by the science of distilling and the adventure of creating new concoctions, and just had to learn more. So, he and his wife, Hilary, took an advanced distilling class and began building their dream of opening a distillery of their own.
In 2015, Up North Distillery and its on-site bar opened in Post Falls as the only craft distillery based in North Idaho. From the beginning, Randy and Hilary were determined to highlight the Inland Northwest while making everything in small batches and experimenting with flavors.
"We get a lot of inspiration from what people are doing around the region," says Hilary, "but we also like to play off what we can find in Idaho. We look for flavors that are in our backyard."
This farm-to-flask mentality has resulted in spirits made with regional honey, apples, malts and pinecones. In fact, Randy, who used to be a lineman, climbs white pines along the Spokane River every spring and shakes down young cones to craft their North Idaho Pine Liqueur. The couple also incorporate local flavors into their creative cocktails, and stock local and regional liquors at the Up North Bar, a popular local spot with trivia night, live music and food trucks.
The Manns also have a fondness for whiskey and took the minimum two years to create their own. They then opened up a second bar location, the Bee's Knees Whiskey Bar in Hayden, to spotlight all things whiskey.
"It's an education piece to our distillery," says Hilary, "and a way to get people intrigued by the different categories of whiskey."
In 2021, their North Idaho Single Malt Whiskey received a gold medal from the PR%F Awards, along with their Apple Brandy, Barrel-Aged Apple Brandy, Honey Spirits, Barrel-Finished Honey Spirits and North Idaho Pine Liqueur. Up North also won two silver medals for its distillery-exclusive Barrel-Reserve Honey Spirits and Oak Strength Honey Spirits.
Find many of Up North's spirits in Idaho liquor stores, or enjoy them at their bars. Next up: distribution to other states.