Bottle of Wondermint

I always wonder if I’m supposed to give a warning when writing about liquor retailers, as they do on their websites. So, if you’re not of legal drinking age, please don’t read this.

That said, the rest of us occasionally shop for wine, beer and distilled spirits and Death’s Door Spirits is a local favorite. It’s no wonder, too, because they appreciate the value of keeping it local by working with local farmers in their distillery operation. Death’s Door’s juniper (for the gin), wheat for the white whiskey and coriander and fennel (for the vodka) are sourced from Brooklyn, WI and the barley they use for vodka is grown in Chilton. Buying your liquor from Death’s Door is like buying a bottle of Wisconsin.

Located in Middleton, Brian Ellison started the company in 2005 and his distillery in 2012. He chose to name it after the body of water that separates Washington Island from the Door County Peninsula.

What you’ll find at Death’s Door

Wondermint: what is in the bottle is equally as attractive as the label. The recipe for this historically popular Wisconsin brew includes vodka (as the base), almond oil, mint, wormwood (a component of absinthe) and rosewater. Don’t confuse it with modern peppermint schnapps, however, because this recipe is based on the schnapps Henry Rowe Schoolcraft , who discovered the source of the Mississippi River in 1832, imbibed with the locals. It’s not quite as sweet as modern schnapps and has a higher alcohol content, which makes Wondermint drier.

Martini fans should try Death Door’s gin, made from malted barley and Washington Island wheat (as is the vodka). Similar to London Dry but without the bitterness, the proprietors call it the “utility gin of our time.”

If keeping it local is your mantra, Death Door’s vodka is right up your alley. Produced entirely from certified-organic wheat, grown on Washington Island, it just doesn’t get any more local than this.

That same wheat is employed in Death Door’s white whiskey, described by Death Door as “one part ‘South of the Border’” . . . “and one part ‘Eastern’ . . . yet the palate is unmistakably whisky.”

Death’s Door Spirits is located in the Middleton Business Park at 2220 Eagle Dr. Find them online at



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