Shake-up at Shakers 02 Feb 12

BENSON — The company that put Benson on the map as a distiller of fine spirits and Shakers on store shelves as an ultra-premium vodka has filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition.

The West Central Tribune reports the voluntary petition by Infinite Spirits Inc., of Blaine, was entered on the court docket Jan. 5 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Minnesota division. The first meeting of creditors was held Wednesday.

The five original founders of Pete’s Wicked Ale launched Shakers Vodka in frosted bottles shaped like Martini shakers in March 2003. The vodka made from Minnesota-raised wheat won wide acclaim as America’s answer to premium, foreign vodka brands. It also drew national attention to Benson, where it was distilled until last year.

The Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company had created Glacial Grain Spirits to distill the vodka.

Under the Chapter 7 petition, Infinite Spirits will be liquidated but there is the possibility that the Shakers brand could be purchased and continued, according to the court-appointed trustee for the petition, attorney Rick Stermer of Montevideo.

The bankruptcy is “disappointing’’ news to Glacial Grain Spirits of Benson, but it will not adversely affect the local company, according to Mike Jerke, plant manager of Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company. Glacial Grain Spirits distilled the product under contract to Infinite Spirits. There is no ownership relationship between the two entities.

Glacial Grain Spirits currently distills Prairie Organic Vodka for Minnesota-based Phillips Inc., and also produces a variety of products for other customers.