Person of Interest: Phil Attee

. October 1, 2017.

Occupation: Brand Ambassador and Product Developer at Ann Arbor Distilling Company
220 Felch St. in Ann Arbor

How did you get into the liquor-crafting trade?
My degree from U of M is in biology and philosophy, but shortly after college, I worked for a while in a chemistry lab. When that didn’t pan out as a career, I did a few “jobbies” or, hobbies I got paid for (e.g. pickling at The Brinery, catering, bartending at Alley Bar).

My passion for food and drinks, paired with my background in science, caught the attention of Ari Sussman, one of the founders of Ann Arbor Distilling Company. He brought me on to get the tasting room started and began training me to make spirits from scratch. After a few months, I was making my own recipes.

What are some of the newest products developed at the Distilling Co?
I create products for one of our brands: Spaulding’s, which is a line of premium liquors and cordials. We currently carry Spaulding’s Barrel-Reserve Coffee Liqueur in our tasting room and will hopefully release it into distribution later this year. We are in various stages of development on a few other products, including a peppermint schnapps and other coffee liqueur flavors. In the future, I’d love to do some work with amaros: a type of predominantly Italian herbal liqueur.

What has the Distilling Co. given Ann Arbor that was missing in the town before?
Being the only distillery in town, we are in a unique position to offer something different. We have spirits and cocktails available that you literally can’t get anywhere else. We have food trucks and carts stopping by regularly, so there’s always something new and different to try.

We also strive to be a completely community-driven business. For example, we source local grains and produce and offer an inexpensive venue for local musicians and artists to showcase their work.

It’s Friday night in Ann Arbor. Where are your favorite spots to go to have a good time?
More often than not, I’m hanging out at home, making dinner with Mallory and our dog Roonie. If I’m out with friends, the bars where you’ll find me are Alley Bar, The Last Word, and 327 Braun Court. My favorite restaurants for special occasions include Logan, Pacific Rim, and Grange.

What has been your best discovery since living in Ann Arbor?
Definitely the Farmer’s Market. I lived in town for 3 years before I even knew it existed. Right after graduation, my car broke down, so I couldn’t drive to the mega-grocery anymore. I searched for a grocery store downtown and discovered the market. I not only found what the market itself had to offer, but the incredible places nearby: Sparrow, Monahan’s, Durham’s Tracklements, and Zingerman’s! It completely changed how I ate. That was sort of the beginning of my journey into the world of food and beverages.

If you could change one thing about the city, what would it be?
I wish there were more affordable housing in the area. A lot of my friends who work in A2 can’t afford to live here. We also desperately need a good, mid-size venue for music and art. Hopefully, Ann Arbor Distilling Company will be able to fill that void in the near future.

Visit Ann Arbor Distilling Company’s website for more information: www.annarbordistilling.com

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