New vodka from former Hawkeye and NFL standout Chad Greenway now available in Iowa
A new vodka is making its way to Iowa shelves thanks to Chad Greenway, a Hawkeyes football legend and retired Minnesota Viking.
Gray Duck Handcrafted Vodka is a Minnesota-distilled spirit first brought to market last summer by Greenway and three partners said to be lifelong fans of the purple and gold. Consumers can now find it in Iowa after first appearing in Minnesota and the Dakotas.
To celebrate its Iowa expansion, Gray Duck will host an official launch party April 18 from 8-10 p.m. at St. Burch Tavern, 127 Iowa Ave., in Iowa City. Greenway will be in attendance to sign bottles for fans.
"We thought Iowa would be a natural transition for us," said Greenway, 36, who retired from football in 2017. "It's been fun going into our fourth state and obviously very fun to be in the state of Iowa with so many ties for me back there."
Greenway, drafted in the first round by Minnesota in 2006, said the vodka's name was inspired by the Duck, Duck, Gray Duck touchdown celebration Vikings players performed in a 2017 game against the Chicago Bears.
"I grew up in South Dakota playing the kids' game Duck, Duck, Goose," Greenway said. "But in Minnesota, all four of my kids play Duck, Duck, Gray Duck."
Kyle Rudolph scored the touchdown and teammates sat in a circle as Rudolph walked around and tapped each on the head. Afterward, Minnesota sports reporters corrected Rudolph when he told them they were playing Duck, Duck, Goose.
"It became a national talking point about how Minnesota is the only state in the country that plays Duck, Duck, Gray Duck, and it's something that Minnesotans are proud of and hold dearly," Greenway said. "So we wanted to name our product that is sourced here, made here and partially bottled here after something that is very Minnesotan, so we went with Gray Duck."
Where to find it
Right now, Gray Duck is available at locations throughout Iowa, including two Hy-Vee stores in the Des Moines metro:
- 1005 Hickman Road, Waukee; (515) 216-2760
- 1990 Grand Ave., West Des Moines; (515) 223-8151
Additional locations will be updated online at grayduckspirits.com.
"If you want to get it, just reach out to your local liquor store or restaurant and bar and they can definitely get it," Greenway said.
Gray Duck can be enjoyed in a variety of cocktails, including bloody marys, mules, martinis or simply on the rocks with olives stuffed with Maytag Blue cheese.
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The 80-proof vodka is made with 100% Minnesota corn, making it gluten-free. The mashbill gives the spirit a sweet taste with a smooth finish from the carbon-filtered distillation process.
The corn sourced from Benton, Minnesota, where the vodka is produced by a third-party distiller. Some of the product is bottled in Minnesota and a portion is bottled in the Des Moines metro.
Since the brand launched in August 2018, Gray Duck Spirits has found distribution through Johnson Brothers Liquor Company and can be found in numerous bars, restaurants and stores.
One-liter bottles sell for around $21.99, while 1.75-liter bottles retail at $26.99 in most liquor stores and supermarkets.
Greenway said it's the company's goal to eventually have its own distillery and tasting room open to visitors. For now, the focus is on growing the brand's profile and reach.
"We are going to wait and see how it goes from here," he said.
In the meantime, fans may spot Greenway with his family visiting the state. His wife is also a University of Iowa graduate.
"We come back for a lot of Iowa football games and to visit friends," Greenway said. "We are not from Iowa, but when you live in Iowa, you become an Iowan really quick. We have so many friends and people we are connected to now."