Paradise Rums begin like all the best rums do: With lots of tasty sugar! The distilling process begins with 1,700 pounds of base sugar in an 800 gallon fermenting tank. We then add 34 pounds of yeast, and five days later, a 15% base wine is ready. This is the wash from which all Paradise flavors are born.
The base wine is transferred, 70 gallons at a time, into a still unlike any still you've ever seen. This is because we make a product that you've never had! Once the wash begins to boil, steam travels up through the still's 4 columns, reacting with copper mesh inside. This creates a heat gradient, which is then measured by thermometers at the top of each column.
Making Heads and Tails of the Hearts
The alcohol from a run is made up of 3 parts; the heads, the hearts, and the tails. The first part of the run, or the "heads", produces alcohol but also acetone. Since that makes better nail polish remover than cola mixer, we discard that product. That would not be part of your Paradise!!
The second part of the run produces the best quality spirits, which are called the "hearts." Now, some distilleries run their stills between 80 and 90 degrees centigrade in order to produce more liquor. However, that liquor contains fusel oils, which cause hangovers! Paradise strives to avoid these oils by taking only the finest cuts of "the hearts", and collecting spirits produced between 78 and 80 degrees centigrade only.
That high-quality spirit is then diluted down to 45% or 42% alcohol with the best tasting water in America, and enters one of our three stainless steel, recycled dairy tanks. Here it will sit for anywhere from three days to seven weeks before being bottled, depending on the taste profile desired!
Though our family of products are technically classified as rums, they offer a broad range of taste profiles. Some might say their flavors closely resemble other familiar spirits.
Our Island Bay Rum, for example, is a clear liquor with great mixability, similar to a premium vodka. It can be enjoyed with any cocktail you would normally use vodka with.
If you prefer fine whiskey, you will love our White Sand Rum. Heavy oak exposure delivers aromas of molasses and brown sugar, which touch off sweet caramel notes in this rich rum. It has great sip-ability!
Finally, our pale-colored Caribbean Mist rum lands somewhere in between the other two, with a medium oak exposure. It has just a hint of the charred oak flavors and aroma, and still goes great with your tropical cocktails calling for a fine dark rum. You can learn more about each flavor here.
The Paradise Difference
Do you hate hangovers? Ever wake up after a night of drinking beer, wine or cheap liquor and wish you could crawl into a hole somewhere? Those beverages all have much more of something our product doesn't.... fusel oils!
Studies suggest that fusel oils are a main culprit of hang overs. That's why we do all we can to leave them out of our product! Not only does taking the tightest cuts of the hearts result in a better tasting spirit, but it makes a hangover less likely, too.
So, similar to sippers of fine whiskey, those who go to bed with Paradise in their heads should wake up clear-headed, or in Paradise again!
Click Play to get a behind-the-scenes look at Paradise:
Chief Dreamer, Dr. Joe Berger, has had a passion --and talent-- for hand-crafting beer for more than 25 years. His home brews have won countless awards and taste contests, and now his spirits are winning them, too.
His brewing talents and quest for perfection have transferred well to the micro-distilling business, and in March of 2014, with the help of his family and friends, his 11,000 square foot facility was welcomed with open arms by the community.
The visionary leader and driving force of the company hopes his products will "bring Paradise to you, where ever you may be," and reminds people to make the best of where ever they are at in their lives right now.
We Get By With a Little Help From Our Friends
Of course, Dr. Berger couldn't do it alone. Support from family and friends has been key to the success of Paradise thus far.
The eldest three of his five children, Alex, Zack and Nick, have helped tremendously along the way.
Twenty-year-old Nickolas could be considered his father's right hand man when it comes to day-to-day operations, greeting customers, and producing rum. His brother, Zack, also assists at Paradise on the weekends and during breaks from University of Northern Iowa. Zack's twin sister, Alex, helps with marketing and communications from the East Coast, and when she returns for visits.
And finally, Dr. Berger's longtime friend and brew-buddy, Greg Olson, has provided unwavering support with everything from setting up and designing the stills to production and taste testing, and helping to get the word out.
Credit is also owed to our volunteers, bottlers, the community of Dubuque for being so supportive, and anyone who has helped along the way. THANK YOU for helping us bring Paradise to you!
Dubuque's Distilling History
In 1864, a railroad builder named Joe Rhomberg opened Dubuque's first liquor distillery, Rhomberg & Co. Distillers. With sixteen 300-gallon fermenting tubs that could handle 1,000 bushels of grain per day, they produced at least 10,000 barrels of whiskey over the years.
However, the Federal Government eventually caught up to his operation, and around 1870, filed a suit of against Mr. Rhomberg for more than $755,000 in unpaid excise tax. (That's around $20 Million in today's market!)
He and his friends fought the courts every step of the way, and eventually landed in United States Circuit Court in Des Moines. By then, most of his property had been seized, but a judgment of $103,000 was still declared against him. By 1973, the distillery building was converted into the Iowa Pacific Flour Mill, near what is now the Dubuque Star Brewery building in the Port of Dubuque.
In July 2013, 140 years later, Paradise Distilling Company turned on its stills for the first time. We started serving paradise to the public in March of 2014, and are proud to report that we're all paid up with the feds, so you can enjoy our fine libations, worry-free!
(Special thanks to Encyclopedia Dubuque)