Small Norwalk distillery hopes for huge boost from new Iowa tourism program

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NORWALK, Iowa — John Broadbent is spending his golden years creating liquid gold — in this case, corn whiskey — in his backyard.

“I’ve had a lot of jobs, but this is the best job anybody could have,” said Broadbent, who owns and operates Broadbent Distillery from his rural Norwalk home. “The still is 80 feet from my house. I could work on it when I want to.”

Broadbent’s business, which produces the Two Jay’s line of spirits, is now featured in a statewide tourism effort.

Travel Iowa unveiled its Iowa Distillery Passport program this week. The program features distilleries across the state and unique deals for each one.

The program features businesses such as the Templeton Rye Distillery in its namesake town and the Iowa Distilling Company in Cumming, five miles away from Broadbent’s business.

Broadbent Distillery is likely the smallest business featured in the initial lineup.

“We don’t really have any advertising or people to go out and do tastings for us,” Broadbent said. “We don’t have people to knock on doors and ask businesses, ‘Would you like to offer our whiskey?'”

His company also produces a whiskey-lemonade mix called limoncello and a rare, grape-based spirit called grappa.

Broadbent does not know whether the distillery passport program will lead to a spike in sales, but he is ready for anyone eager to drive to Norwalk and try his liquor for themselves.

“We have a lot of people that do just drive up,” Broadbent said. “If I’m home, they get the full-blown tour.”

The distillery passport is part of Travel Iowa’s larger passport program. The effort also features passports for wine, beer, state parks, and scenic byways.

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