Are you dreaming of Bloody Mary’s with bacon vodka for the New Year?
Then look no further than Ugly Dog Distillery, LLC, in Dexter Township. Or, pick up one of the products at one of more than 650 (and counting) locations where it’s sold.
But, nothing beats a trip to the small retail location at 14495 N. Territorial Road and a chance to meet Jon Dyer and Dewey Winkle, the businesses’ two owners.
You might even be lucky enough to meet Ruger, the star of the product’s label, a German Wirehaired Pointer that belongs to Dyer.
“Our vodka is handcrafted in small batches using Michigan grown wheat and other local ingredients,” Dyer said. “Each batch is taste-tested before being bottled to ensure the premium quality customers have come to expect.”
In fact, Ugly Dog vodka can be found in stores, restaurants, and taverns across Michigan. And, the plain vodka won a gold medal this summer in a micro distiller’s spirits competition and the business also took a bronze medal for its bacon vodka.
“We had record sales this week,” Dyer said during an interview the last week in November.
Since day 1, there has been nothing but growth in the popularity of Ugly Dog’s products.
Dyer, a former builder and trained machinist said he’s always done what he wanted to do in life and launching Ugly Dog in May 2010, is his fifth career.
But it might be his favorite one yet.
“I don’t have that dreaded feeling about going to work,” he said, which is a good thing since he works seven days a week and only takes off 4-5 days a year.
He said he’s self-taught and built his first distiller in 2004, then built progressively better and better models.
“From the day we opened, we’ve sold everything we’ve made,” Dyer said.
Winkle handles the distilling process on a day-to-day basis, Dyer said, and currently, they sell five products – three flavors of vodka, plain, bacon and raspberry, gin and rum, and all are less than $20 in the store.
So what’s been learned since Ugly Dog opened its doors? “I never knew there were this many Bloody Mary drinkers,” Dyer said.
The partners launched the business in 2008, incorporated in February 2009, and officially opened the doors in May 2010.
Both owners grew up in Dexter so “it’s really a hometown, homemade product,” he said.
And, one of the reasons that they agreed to pose with Ruger as the January photo in the BRAve Men of Dexter and Beyond Relay For Life fundraising calendar.
So, what’s next for Ugly Dog? A private label for the Raven’s Club in Ann Arbor. And, “there are always new products on the horizon,” Dyer says.
The store is normally open Monday-Saturday from 10-5 and on Sunday from noon-5.