Plans released for new Marquette distillery

A new rendering shows The Honorable Distillery with a 1936 Nordic Theater marquee...
A new rendering shows The Honorable Distillery with a 1936 Nordic Theater marquee reproduction. (Courtesy Bernie Rosendahl) (WLUC)
Published: Feb. 24, 2020 at 8:35 AM EST
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New renderings have been unveiled for a distillery in downtown Marquette.

Marquette native Anne White says she's returning home with her partner, Scott Anderson, to open the business in a restored Nordic Theater. They're calling it The Honorable Distillery.

White and Anderson want to use all locally sourced grains to make vodka, gin, bourbon, rye and single-malt whiskey.

The front of the building will feature a reproduction of the 1936 Nordic Theater marquee. The building at 136 W. Washington St. also housed Book World until it closed two years ago in downtown Marquette.

"(It's) probably one of the more important architectural buildings in the city," said White.

Over the next year, White and Anderson plan to convert the space into a tasting room and distillery.

"That's one of our main goals, is to try and make it look like it used to look," said Anderson. "It just won't show movies. We'll be making spirits."

The Honorable Distillery will make spirits in the historic Nordic building.

"Being able to restore that and have the opportunity to do that and engage with the community that really gave me so much growing up is really an honor," said White, adding that supporting women in science will also be an important part of what they do.

This is a new career for the two who've been working on nuclear waste cleanup and living in Tennessee.

"By education I'm a chemical engineer, so I thought at one point I'd be working in a refinery doing distillation. I didn't think I'd be distilling spirits," said Anderson.

Anderson and White have learned a lot about the building's history through Detroit-area designer Bernie Rosendahl, who was involved in initial plans to restore the Nordic to a theater and created the new renderings.

The partners have found a lot of artifacts, including old logs of Nordic ticket and concession sales. Local history and local products will be key to the distillery.

"We intend to use all U.P. grains, all U.P. materials," said White. "We're going to be doing vodka and gin first because they don't need to age, and so you always do those first, and then we'll also be having some whiskey offerings pretty immediately. Then we'll also be putting our own whiskey into barrels to age. We're going to specialize in a rye and a single-malt scotch, which you can't call it scotch because it's not made in Scotland, but it will be made in that very traditional way."

White and Anderson need to get city, state and federal permits before they can start to make distilled spirits.

"Maybe by the end of this year we will be making distilled spirit," said Anderson. "We won't be open for business, but we'll be running the equipment through its paces."

Anderson says the tasting room will open next year.

"Wouldn't it be cool if we could have our grand opening at next year's UP200? It's an aggressive goal, but I'll think we'll shoot for that, and if not, we'll have a nice grand opening in the springtime," he said.

White says the "honorable" name has a couple of meanings. In 2018 and 2019, she was an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Energy. "The Honorable" is a title you're given for life after you're confirmed by the U.S. Senate. White also says taking on this distillery endeavor is an honor, and they plan to make great spirits the honorable way.