Michigan native left Wall Street to make spirits in Ferndale - New York News

Michigan native left Wall Street to make spirits in Ferndale

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Rifino Valentine is the owner of Valentine Distilling in Ferndale. Rifino Valentine is the owner of Valentine Distilling in Ferndale.
FERNDALE, Mich. (WJBK) -

Just off of Woodward north of Nine Mile there is a small distillery with a big heart.

"You are handcrafting this stuff from start to finish, and you're involved in every part of the process. I mean, I taste every single batch," said Rifino Valentine.  "It's natural to put your name on it."

He is the owner of Valentine Distilling. The former Wall Streeter returned home six years ago to put his stock and his name on a local business with an eye on global success.

"Why can't we make a world class vodka in this country, for one, and being from Michigan and with Detroit being the former manufacturing capital of the world, I thought how cool would that be to do it in that setting," Valentine said.

Any time the big Detroit companies were failing, people were leaving at record levels. His style was born from history and pride.

"I'm one of those guys that yearns for the days when we actually still manufactured the majority of the products in this country," Valentine said.

Most every ingredient in his spirits are from Michigan. Even the bricks and window in the distillery are hand picked from the ruins of Detroit industry long gone.

"We are maniacally obsessed with doing things the right way and just taking time and care in the whole process, you know, using good ingredients. It's really hard to find that nowadays," Valentine said.

Many awards later, the company is expanding their product line. Valentine Vodka led the way for Liberator Gin and Woodward Whiskey.

"It was probably really about two years ago after winning the San Francisco Spirits Competition where it really just kind of took off and took a life of it's own, and we're like, all right, now we really know that we're on to something good," Valentine said.

The former high school wrestler from Glen Lake High School in Maple City, Michigan wants the world to know that there is a way to bottle up love and pride, capturing the spirit of our city of industry in an award winning mix totally made in Michigan.

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