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Tastemakers:Backwoods Pretzels/Paddy Old Irish Whiskey

Rick Coates - March 15th, 2010
Backwoods Pretzels
Parallel 45 Enterprises launched in 2006 when good friends Gene Van Koevering and Jerry Timmer decided to go into business together to package and sell a pretzel snack that Van Koevering and his wife would bring to parties. That popular party pretzel recipe would become Uncle Gene’s Backwoods Pretzels Garlic-Dill, available at stores throughout Northern Michigan.
The pretzels literally flew off retail shelves leading the partners to develop other flavors. They now have four, including Cherry Chipotle, Cinnamon Sugar and Buffalo Wing. The new brands also have found a fan base in the region. “We always have at least two flavors on hand at Right Brain Brewery,” said Russ Springsteen. “These pretzels pack a lot of flavor and our patrons love them.”
At first the partners were able to package the pretzels locally but demand forced them to have production and packaging moved down state. They are currently looking at moving the whole production and packaging operation to Northern Michigan soon. While production may be downstate, the distribution end of the operation takes place out of Traverse City and equally important the research and development of future products also takes place in Northern Michigan.
Packaging is currently in seven ounce bags as well as two ounce snack bags, though these tasty treats don’t stick around long so if there is more than one person around either hide your snack bag or be sure to buy the larger bag.
So what flavor is next? The partners are not saying right now as it is still in development, but after the release of four successful flavors this next flavor is sure to be a big hit. Rating: 5-Crunches, find Uncle Gene’s Backwoods Pretzels at retailers and pubs around, Northern Michigan, for a list go to --Rick Coates

Paddy Old Irish Whiskey
There is no shortage of great Irish whiskey in the United States: Jameson’s, Bushmill’s, John Power, Knappogue Castle and Red Breast have all been featured in past Bottom’s Up columns. So is there such a thing as too many Irish whiskeys? Not if you ask an Irishman; his response would be “too many Irish whiskeys is a contradiction in terms.”
While Irish whiskey enthusiasts in the United States have enjoyed the more than 20 brands available, there has been one particular bottle they have been asking for that has not been available in the states until just a couple of weeks ago. Paddy Old Irish Whiskey is currently available only in liter bottles. As such, it won’t win any awards for its label (looks don’t count anyway -- after all John Power has a pretty plain looking label but is, dollar for dollar one of the best Irish whiskeys available).
Paddy Old Irish Whiskey was first distilled in 1779 and sold under the name “Cork Distilleries Company Old Irish Whiskey.” The name changed when Paddy Flaherty joined the company in 1881 and quickly became the number one salesman. He was a larger than life character who became famous in his native country and over time, Paddy became synonymous with the whiskey and connoisseurs began writing to the distillery asking for another case of “Paddy’s whiskey.” Despite frequent differences of opinion with his employers concerning his unconventional sales techniques (drinking his customers under the table to get them to buy more), the “Paddy whiskey” name stuck so much so that in 1912, the distillery owners bowed to public pressure and officially changed the name to “Paddy Old Irish Whiskey.” The triple distillation process combined with the finest Irish barley and Irish spring water results in a smooth sipping Irish whiskey that may be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or with your favorite mixer. Paddy Old Irish Whiskey is now available in Northern Michigan, Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Sláinte. --Rick Coates

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