Cedar Ridge Master Distiller Murphy Quint

Cedar Ridge Guest Post: Murphy Quint On Winning The Hearts Of Iowans

A Guest Post written by Murphy Quint, master distiller at Cedar Ridge Distillery

The Lost Lantern Midwest Collection launches on March 27. It’s our very first regional collection, and as the name suggests, it’s focused on a region that we see as one of the unsung heroes of American whiskey: the Midwest. The region is home to hundreds of distilleries, and our Midwest Collection showcases six of the brightest lights in the Midwest. We truly think Midwest whiskey is poised to emerge as a distinct and recognized whiskey style. But you don’t have to take our word for it.

For our first regional collection, we asked several distillers across the Midwest to contribute guest blog posts about what makes their distillery and the Midwest as a whole unique. 

Today’s guest post comes from Murphy Quint, master distiller at Cedar Ridge Distillery in Swisher, Iowa. Cedar Ridge was one of Lost Lantern’s first partners, going back to our original Fall 2020 cohort, and is one of our most frequent. In fact, with the launch of a single cask of Cedar Ridge straight wheat whiskey in the Midwest Collection and the debut of Far-Flung Rye, a blend of Midwestern ryes including Cedar Ridge, they’re the first distillery to appear in all of our primarily label colors and styles. We like just about everything Cedar Ridge makes. 

And we’re not the only ones: in fact, Cedar Ridge is the top-selling bourbon in its home state of Iowa. Yes, that means they even beat out mass-market bourbon brands! No other distillery in the nation has yet accomplished such a feat. And that’s really something special.

So we asked Murphy to share his thoughts on what has made Cedar Ridge resonate so strongly in Iowa and across the Midwest… and what the overall culture of the region contributes to its whiskey culture. 

Here’s Murphy, and thanks again for contributing! –Adam

Cedar Ridge Murphy Quint

Murphy Quint of Cedar Ridge on Winning the Hearts of Iowans

A few years ago Cedar Ridge accomplished something truly unique: we became the top-selling bourbon in the state of Iowa. Naturally, I proudly mention this to people all over the country, and at first, they tend to overlook the significance of this achievement. “Why does that matter? Why should I care about Iowa?”. That’s when I rephrase the sentence to make it a bit more impactful: in 49 states, the top-selling bourbon is from Kentucky. And then there’s Iowa, where Cedar Ridge is at the top of the charts.

I have the pleasure of networking with distillers and brand owners all over the country, and they commonly ask me how we pulled this off. I’ve given a million different answers to this question. Sometimes I talk about how we had the perfect team at the perfect moment, which is entirely true. Sometimes I talk about how we ran an edgy advertising campaign that sent our sales skyrocketing, which is also true. But to be completely honest, there were a million little things that came together to create a perfect storm. A lot of it was meticulously planned out. There was also a lot of luck involved. But there was one giant element to our success that couldn’t be replicated anywhere else: We had Iowans in our corner. 

 

Cedar Ridge

The Sting of ‘Flyover Country’

Because Iowa isn’t known as a popular tourist destination (despite the beautiful landscape, great food and drink, the booming economy, and the friendliest people on the planet), people tend to write us off. They slap a label on us that says “flyover country”. Personally, I think it’s insane that people don’t travel here to experience the unparalleled sense of freedom that wide open land presents, or to hike through our long stretches of calming woodland. But hey, everyone has their own taste.

No Iowan will readily admit the sting of the flyover label. Yet, beneath the surface, we all harbor a quiet frustration from it. And in my opinion, this is a big reason why Cedar Ridge is the number one selling bourbon in the state of Iowa: either Iowan Pride or Iowan Bitterness. (I suppose it depends on how you look at it – is the glass half full or half empty?) 

 

Cedar Ridge Barrels

A True Iowa Success Story

Since the day we opened our distillery, Iowans have shown up to support us. Why? I suppose it’s the same reason why I want to bare-knuckle box anyone who says Iowa is a flat state (it’s not).

[Editor’s Note from Adam: I can confirm that Iowa is, in fact, quite hilly and not particularly flat at all. This defied my own stereotypes of the area. Nebraska and Kansas are flat, Iowa isn’t] I suppose it’s the same reason why I cry inside whenever someone asks me if I grow potatoes (that’s Idaho, not Iowa). It’s because we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, yet for some reason nobody knows about us. And because of this, we have a tendency to rally around anything that will bring Iowa to the spotlight. 

As much as my co-workers and I want to take credit for this major achievement, it wasn’t us alone who accomplished it. It was all Iowans. 

I’m so honored that Cedar Ridge is included in Lost Lantern’s Midwest Collection. I’m proud of Lost Lantern for showing the world that there is a whole region, albeit a slightly quiet one, that is producing top-notch whiskeys that belong on any whiskey enthusiast’s shelf. 

 

 

Learn more about Lost Lantern’s Cedar Ridge Ohio Straight Wheat Whiskey Single Cask!

 

Additional guest posts from our Midwest Collection: