Trending Topics

‘We’re Not the First Black People to Distill’: Black-Owned Distillery Secures Partnership with Delta Airlines, Pays It Forward with Minneapolis Community

Du Nord Craft Spirits, the first Black-owned distillery in the nation, was struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. Now the award-winning distillery based in Minneapolis has partnered with a national airline.

Du Nord Craft has teamed up with Delta Air Lines to serve its Foundation Vodka on flights. The airline began offering Du Nord’s vodka on all domestic flights on Oct. 1.

By 2022, other products from the brand also will be provided on Delta flights as part of the airline’s revamped food and beverage menu.

“When Delta first started talking to us about this, it was nowhere near possible for us to do any of the things they were talking about,” Du Nord founder and CEO Chris Montana said. “We had to envision a future where we were back on our feet, then be able to do what they needed.”

Chris Montana, CEO of Du Nord Craft Spirits (Credit:

Du Nord’s product line includes Fitzgerald Gin, L’Etoile Vodka, Mixed Blood Blended Whiskey, Café Freida Coffee Liqueur and an Apple Du Nord Liqueur.

“We call this a partnership because they’re making it possible for one of the smallest companies in the country to work with one of the largest,” said Montana.

Du Nord’s deal with Delta reflects its mission and commitment to adding diversity to the craft alcohol industry.

There are at least 10 Black-owned distilleries throughout the U.S. Montana recognizes that while they have the distinction as the “first Black distillery”, the process is nothing new for Black people.

DNSS is known as “the first legal Black distillery and the reason why we [say] that is because Black people have been distilling for hundreds of years. We’re the first ones that got the actual license and then distilled recognized by the United States government, but we’re not the first Black people to distill.”

Just two hands full of Black-owned distilleries is a drop in the bucket as an estimated 21,745 businesses in the U.S. produce craft beverages. It is a booming industry.

According to the Congressional Research Service, sales of craft beverages are reaching an estimated $32 billion annually. In addition, sales from businesses specializing in craft alcoholic beverages equal an estimated eight percent of total annual alcohol sales.

Montana is no stranger to rolling up his sleeves. He launched Du Nord Craft Spirits in 2013 while working full-time as an attorney. Unable to obtain a bank loan, Montana hit the pavement in search of financing. He was offered a $60,000 loan from a community-based organization — a small fraction of the cost of what was needed to open a distillery.

To find out how Du Nord Montana overcame these obstacles to secure a deal with Delta and pay it forward, read more here.

Back to top