Middletown distillery now selling its own spirits by the bottle, in cocktails

White Dog Distilling Company at 1357 Central Ave. in downtown Middletown has been open since late last year but only this month was owner Mike Dranschak able to sell the vodka, gin, rum and agave spirits he’d been distilling. Now his vodka, gin, rum and agave spirits are available for purchase by the bottle or as part of a cocktail at the bar.
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White Dog Distilling Company at 1357 Central Ave. in downtown Middletown has been open since late last year but only this month was owner Mike Dranschak able to sell the vodka, gin, rum and agave spirits he’d been distilling. Now his vodka, gin, rum and agave spirits are available for purchase by the bottle or as part of a cocktail at the bar.

A downtown Middletown distillery is now able to make its creations available to the public.

White Dog Distilling Company has been open since late last year but only the bar served customers, with owner Mike Dranschak holding back the vodka, gin, rum and agave spirits he’d been distilling until Ohio said he could sell them.

This month, with permission in hand, the business at 1357 Central Ave. started selling by the bottle and crafting cocktails from its own spirits.

“I think it’s great,” Dranschak said. “I’m glad we’re able to have product to use, especially at our bar.”

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Dranschak, who had a chemical engineering background, said he had wanted to start a distillery for about a decade, and eventually started “playing around” just to see what he could do.

“Then I said, ‘Let’s take it one step further and go into full-scale production,’” he said.

In May 2018, he purchased the storefront that formerly housed Liberty Spirits, and in November 2018, when he obtained a liquor license, he opened the bar and started distilling, a process he said takes awhile because “it’s only a batch a time and you only get five to seven gallons out,” Dranschak said.

Focusing on the products that are clear and sell quickly has made the production process easier. Asking price for a 750ML bottle of agave spirits is $27.65, rum for $26.12, gin for $29.61 and vodka for $24.58, plus tax.

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Guests at the bar aren’t limited to White Dog Distilling Company’s selection. There are about 80 bourbons, plus scotch, tequila, rum, vodka, gin and more. Wine is available by the glass and beer is sold by the bottle or as a draft beer from the tap. Snacks include hot pretzels with nacho cheese and homemade Gold-N-Grub sugar waffles.

The bar, which seats around 50 people, offers flights of various drinks, live music, a jukebox and several games, including a version of Scrabble mounted to the wall to allow guests to play without disturbing their drinks.

Dranschak said he tries to stay as local as he can when purchasing ingredients used to create White Dog Distilling Company’s spirits, including taking corn in 50-pound bags and grinding it himself. He gets wheat and rye from an old schoolmate on a farm north of Dayton. Putting a cup of apple cider in his fermentations gets him a tax break from the state for using Ohio fruit.

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“White Dog” is a slang name for the un-aged, raw whiskey that goes into the bourbon barrel. It’s also an accurate description of Dranschak’s Peekapoo dog, who appears in the company’s logo, attentively watching the distillation process.

“It’s kind of like our white dog watching the white dog go into a barrel,” he said.

The distillery’s next move is to sell the spirits to area restaurants and bars, followed by state distribution to liquor stores at a later date. Dranschak also wants to age his agave-infused spirit and rum to create a darker, more complex spirit, and create and age whiskey.

“It’s interesting to play around with stuff like this,” he said. “This is really where the craft is.”