Celina Tio, a James Beard Award winning chef and a television cooking contest participant is well known across the country. She has also won awards for her spirits creations.
Tio is the owner of The Belfry at 1532 Grand Boulevard. In February 2022, she created a subsidiary called ANNX Spirits Co. and spent the remainder of the year developing spirits and blending them at MGP Indiana in Lawrenceburg. In January 2023, she launched four brands. They all won medals in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2023, the biggest competition:
Collection is a hand-selected blend of straight whiskies. The first edition, which was sold at 115-proof, is a blend of aged seven-year-old rye whisky and six-year-old rye whisky. It won a gold medal for its rye-forward flavor. Tio stated that the goal is to release something new each year under this label. The next edition may be a single barrel bourbon, or a blend of bourbon with rye.
600 Acres, a wheat-and-corn blend, was distilled, but without removing all the flavor. It has a smooth, clean finish. The bottle is 99 proof. The 600 Acres Vodka was awarded a gold and silver medal at the San Francisco World's Fair.
Moon Age Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a blend made from a 2017 batch with 21% high-rye Bourbon and a batch of 2018 with 36% high-rye Bourbon. It is proofed at 101%. Moon Age was awarded a gold in San Francisco.
Boat House Gin is a blend of an old-school London dry gin with a botanical heavy gin. It contains notes of orange peel, cucumber and pine. Boat House Gin was awarded a silver in San Francisco.
Tio stated that all four spirits sold well even before they received the medals at San Francisco.
Tio stated that everyone has a gin or vodka on the market, because it doesn't need to be aged. Our vodka is 99 proof which means that you are getting a high-quality product. It's doing better than I anticipated. Gin sales were also a pleasant surprise, particularly that Kansas bought more than Missouri. It's probably because Lifted spirits, Tom's Town, and Rieger have all already created a large following. I think that we are a good fit in this mix and there is room for everyone.
ANNX Spirits can be purchased at The Belfry, as well as at the liquor stores located in Downtown, down south to the state border, in Overland Park and Lawrence, and Wichita.
Tio is now ready to expand her distribution in other states. She's looking at Ohio, Texas and other states where she has many friends who are restaurant owners.
Tio stated, "I hope that gin and other vodkas take off as I can make them all day." This will allow me to focus on my passions (Moon Age Collection and Collection) which I am really passionate about. I have enough barrels left to make more batches. My goal is to create my own custom mash bills based on my blends and ratios of each barrel. Then I can scale.
Tio plans to continue working on other projects that she started before launching ANNX. She had already done tastings for clients and sold single barrels to those who were in whiskey clubs. She wants to bottle those single barrels now and create experiences for her clients.
Tio stated that she has taught many classes on blending. She also explained how to taste, and what she thinks of when blending. I want to provide high-end experiences, but it is not about me. You are the focus. I will guide you, you can then create what you want.