Sippin' with Slipknot: Cedar Ridge Distillery partners with Iowa band on whiskey

SWISHER — When Slipknot calls and asks to collaborate on a whiskey, you say yes, according to Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery director of operations and head distiller Murphy Quint.

“You get an opportunity to work with Slipknot, and it’s really hard to pass that up,” he said.

The distillery and the Grammy-winning heavy metal band from Des Moines have teamed up to brew Slipknot No. 9, a whiskey blend created especially for the band that will be released in August.

Quint said he met with members of the band about a year ago, talking the most with M. Shawn “Clown” Crahan, Slipknot’s percussionist and a founding member of the band. They tasted different whiskeys in Cedar Ridge’s inventory, and Crahan selected which he preferred and what percentage of each variety should be used.

“He picked the blend,” Quint said.

They settled on 60% bourbon and 40% rye. They are offering two varieties, Slipknot No. 9, a reference to the number of members of the band, who sometimes are referred to by number rather than name, and Slipknot No. 9 Reserve. Slipknot No. 9 is a 90 proof whiskey aged for three years that will retail for $39.99; the reserve is 99 proof aged four years and will retail for $69.99.

“My favorite part of this project, and the biggest challenge, was to produce a whiskey that represents what Slipknot is. It’s got to be bold, it’s got to have a distinguished character to it, something you don’t come across every day,” Quint said. “But it also needs to appeal to whiskey connoisseurs, to be balanced. I think we hit that. It’s not too loud, not too aggressive.”

The band is touring in Europe right now ahead of the Aug. 9 release of their new album, “We Are Not Your Kind.” They will officially release the whiskey August 10, the same day they’ll play a sold out show at the Iowa State Fair, though it will be available before then in select markets on the band’s North American tour.

An Iowa-based collaboration was important for both the band and the distillery, both Quint and Crahan said.

“Slipknot and Cedar Ridge Distillery — two groups of people born and raised in Iowa, and committed to quality and hard work. We collaborated on No. 9 Whiskey, which in addition to Iowa corn, gets some extra spice from its rye content,” Crahan said in a news release. “I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Live life, and always be safe.”

The corn used in Cedar Ridge’s products is grown on Quint’s grandparent’s farm near Winthrop. His parents, Jeff and Laurie Quint, founded Cedar Ridge in 2005.

“It’s very neat, because they’re a band from Iowa, and that’s very near and dear to our hearts,” Murphy Quint said. “We’re not just a flyover state, we’ve got great whiskey, we’ve got great music, we’ve got great food. I’m excited about any collaboration that proves that to be true.”

Cedar Ridge is starting with 4,000 cases of whiskey for the initial release and will produce more from there. Quint said the distribution strategy is to have No. 9 available in every town the band is playing on the American leg of their tour. That has meant expanding the network of distributors they work with across the country. Cedar Ridge products have been in 38 states in the past and are currently sold in 15 or 16 states. Quint said the pulled back into a smaller number of markets intentionally, so the company could focus on building the brand up in those markets.

However, the wider distribution network they’re developing for Slipknot’s whiskey could be utilized in the future. The distillery has been expanding steadily since they started selling their whiskey. The company started as a winery in 2005, with whiskey distilling as a side effort, Quint said. Today, that has flipped, and whiskey makes up the bulk of their business. They recently opened a seventh barrel shed to store more product.

Quint said the initial response to the Slipknot collaboration has been enthusiastic, with Slipknot fans calling and asking when they can get their hands on No. 9. “This project has kind of opened my eyes to the whole world of their fans,” he said. “I obviously liked their music, but I didn’t know how dedicated their followers were.”

One of those fans, Cedar Ridge brewer Eric Benda, was helping bottle Slipknot’s whiskey last week. He said he’s been listening to Slipknot for more than a decade.

When he heard about the collaboration, “I was super stoked,” he said. “I was just really excited. It is super cool to be a part of it.”

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