Minnesota's own Du Nord Social Spirits will be available on Delta Air Lines starting on Friday.
The distillery, which is based in Minneapolis and is the first Black-owned distillery in the United States, has partnered with Delta to serve its Foundation Vodka, it shared in a tweet on Wednesday.
The launch of Du Nord's vodka on domestic flights comes as Delta has been refreshing its onboard food and beverage menus as it restores its in-flight service to what it was pre-pandemic.
Du Nord is headlining Delta's new offerings, with the airline noting it's a perfect fit: Du Nord has a mission to diversify the craft alcohol community, while Delta is focusing on featuring offerings from diverse suppliers, a news release says.
“Delta’s growth is tied to our customer base, and our fastest-growing markets include minorities, women, and international travelers. Doing business with diverse suppliers makes sense and is a core element of our growth strategy," Ed Bastain, Delta's CEO, said in a news release.
Chris Montana, who owns Du Nord, talked to the Star Tribune about how "massive of an opportunity" this is for the small craft distillery.
He told the paper:
"This doesn't happen. Small craft distilleries don't get placed on a major airline that moves millions of bottles every year. That's reserved for legacy distilleries and large companies. You couldn't possibly buy that kind of exposure."
Delta contacted Du Nord in the summer of 2020 — in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and after civil unrest following George Floyd's murder led to their buildings being damaged — about partnering.
"When Delta first reached out to us about this, it was nowhere near possible for us to do any of the things they were talking about. We had to envision a future where we were back on our feet, then able to do what they needed," Chris Montana said in a news release.
So over the next year and a half, Du Nord worked with Delta to scale up the business, while it was also was working to help the local community.
The distillery, which recently changed its name from Du Nord Craft Spirits to Du Nord Social Spirits, was inspired by the 12,000 people who donated $1 million to their Go Fund Me after their buildings were damaged, using all of it to help others in the community, the distillery explains. So, Chris and Shanelle Montana launched the Du Nord Foundation to help local businesses impacted by the civil unrest. The foundation has since shifted its focus to a food shelf program for those in the community and to help business owners who have been historically excluded.
"Du Nord’s vodka stood out to us. It’s really smooth and easy to drink, and we knew it was perfect for our onboard offering," Mike Henny, managing director of onboard services operations at Delta Air Lines, told Fortune. "We also learned of the great community work Du Nord does, and we knew the partnership would be a great fit.
"Airline packaging was a new space for Du Nord when we first contacted them," Henny added. "We’ve worked with them for over a year and a half now to get their product onboard."
Chris Montana, who credits Delta's patience and willingness to support the small distillery as it worked to meet demand, said in a news release: "Had they [Delta] been working with a large company, certain things would have already been there. Distribution to their various hubs would have already been there. A program for this type of packaging in scale would have already been there. The cost structure of a fully-scaled company would have already been there."
As Du Nord continues to scale to meet demand, it will stagger the launch of its spirits on Delta's flights, starting with its Foundation Vodka on domestic flights on Friday. It'll run travelers $10.
Then next year, Delta will begin offering more Du Nord products and plans to launch the spirits internationally, a news release says.
The distillery says it will contribute a portion of sales to the Du Nord Foundation.
Du Nord is just one of several new beverages Delta will offer starting Friday. The others:
- Une Femme "The Callie" California Sparkling Rose — Une Femme produces 100% women-made sparkling wine, and with every bottle sold it donates to a charitable organization whose mission is to improve the lives of women.
- Breckenridge Brewery's Cookie Porter Beer —The Colorado brewery's take on a vanilla porter.
- Tip Top Proper Cocktails' Negroni.
- Terrapin Beer Company's Hopsecutioner IPA — The Georgia brewery's flagship beer.
- Vizzy Hard Seltzer Pineapple Mango.
- WhistlePig Orange Fashioned Cocktail Kit — The Vermont distillery's twist on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail.
Delta Air Lines is the largest carrier at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.