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Bickering Over Brandy
Jamison Rounds traveled to Europe to become a priest. Instead of returning with a collar, he had a plan to create the state’s first distillery. Today his brothers, Tom and Pat Rounds, plus Tom’s son A.J., manage Dakota Spirits on a Missouri River bluff north of Pierre, where they create whiskey and brandy with ingredients culled from South Dakota fields.
The Rounds family had dabbled with beer and wine making, but they didn’t get serious until Jamison began researching distilleries while in seminary. They realized that South Dakota’s resources could produce a product as good as any on the market.
“Everybody talks about how they are unique because of their water source,” says A.J. Rounds, the head distiller. “We’ve got the Missouri River right outside our door. South Dakota grows corn, wheat, everything you need to produce good whiskey and vodka.”
They turn water, corn and wheat into two types of whiskey, a vodka and two brandies: Coteau des Prairies and the award-winning Bickering Brothers, a name that A.J. coined in honor of his family’s harmless business squabbles. The brandy has become their signature product. “We’re the only ones in the world making an aged, neutral brandy,” he says. “We’re setting the standard for it.”
Editor’s Note: This story is revised from the September/October 2013 issue of South Dakota Magazine. To order a copy or to subscribe, call (800) 456-5117.