45th Parallel is a family-owned craft distillery in New Richmond, Wisconsin. When we opened our doors in 2007, we were one of 50 craft distilleries in the United States–there are now more than 1,600.
Our facility has experienced consistent growth over the years, doubling in both physical size and production capacity on more than one occasion. We went from making a single vodka to producing dozens of different spirits, including gins, whiskeys, aquavits, and citrus liqueurs.
Our name comes from the fact that we’re located near the 45th parallel, halfway between the equator and the north pole.
Our mission is to create high quality spirits using local ingredients when possible, and to provide visitors with a great experience.
Paul Werni Sr.
Our grain source is important to us because we do all the fermenting and distilling ourselves. In the beginning, we got our grain from local mills. However, we found that we needed a more consistent grain source, and two grain mill operators recommended a local dairy farmer named Arlen Strate. In addition to dairy–all of which goes to the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery–Arlen grows crops.
“Arlen has the most consistent crops, and he is honest. He won’t try to slip anything by you,” mill operator Dick Gillis said. The local John Deere dealer agreed.
Paul called Arlen and asked if he would be interested in supplying grain for the distillery. Initially, Arlen said no because he thought it would disrupt his routine. He changed his mind a week later when Paul asked again, and 45th Parallel has been using corn from Arlen’s Rusmar farm ever since.
The name ‘Rusmar’ is derived from a combination of Arlen’s parent’s names: Russell and Margaret. Arlen once said that his farm is not too big so he doesn’t have to worry about employees. Coincidentally, Rusmar farm is located on the 45th parallel. Arlen passed away in early 2017. His son Jonathan and his brother Joe still work the farm.