About CWS

Let our spirits raise yours.

Crooked Water Spirits creates all products adhering to these three fundamental traits: Quality, Innovation and the Experience. We are dedicated to delivering products that exceed expectations while pushing the envelope with unique recipes, cask finishing, aging and more. We are committed to high proofing all our spirits for the best experience and taste. Want a lower proof? It’s up to you to water it down, not us. Revel in our line of spirits that are distinctively unique to heighten your drinking experience while raising your expectations.


The Story

Heather began thinking how she could do it differently, after a memorable experience in 2013 trying a gorgeous local small batch craft spirit. This micro vs macro approach was dazzling and inspiring. It was like the difference of having a strawberry or tomato out of the garden verses buying from the store. This realization of how craft could be inspired Heather to set out and create a line of spirits that are approachable while raising expectations. It's with this commitment and enthusiasm, Crooked Water Spirits continues to grow.


Yahara Partnership

In 2013, Heather interviewed several distilleries throughout the Midwest and came to partner with award winning Yahara Bay Distillery in Madison, WI. At that time Nick, the owner, had been in business for over 8 years and had time for Crooked Water to get on his still. No training here, Nick knew his equipment inside and out and how to work with us to make our complex and unique recipes. Yahara has the commitment to quality and the ability to allow CW to scale – both important factors in choosing our distillery partner. We continue to work with Yahara for our award winning products and we appreciate their alignment of strong values and morals and ethics.


Meet The Team

Heather Manley
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Founder and CEO, Heather Manley created CWS in 2013 based off an infatuation for spirits and love for growing idiosyncratic brands that radiate life, values, quality and passion. It was a passion for spirits and innovation that lead her to create Kings Point, a Port Cask finished bourbon with each barrel selling out within days. Since then, Heather has continued to create and release non-traditional award winning vodkas, gins, bourbons, apple brandy and ready to pour cocktails. Welcome to a new way of drinking, you deserve it.

Alisa Mulhair
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Alisa Mulhair joined CWS in 2017 and oversees the day to day operations as well as developing the readiness necessary to deliver the growth trajectory CWS is on. Over her 16 years at Target, Alisa spent the majority of her career in roles that focused on developing new guest centric products, shopping experiences and services. Alisa and her husband, Todd, have a long-standing passion for Wine & Spirits and have spent much time travelling the world and studying the processes and history behind different varietals, such as agave spirits, port, sake, and west coast wines.

Rhett Ambrose
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Rhett Ambrose is the “go to” creative man with a plan at CWS. Taking ideas, thoughts and inspiration from the team and turning them into things like tangible beautiful labels that we like to consider artwork. Rhett received his education from College of Visual Arts and has served in several Creative Director/Designer roles throughout his career. When not creating, he’s passionate on family, hockey, bourbon and spending time in the Boundary Waters.

Lars Forde
head distiller
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Lars Forde is the second generation distiller at Yahara Bay Distillers and has been with the company since the founding. He worked side by side with his Step-Father, Nick Quint, starting in 2007. He has assisted in product development for Yahara Bay and Private labels alike. 

"Creating new products and educating customers about small batch distilling and its benefits to the consumer is the most rewarding part of the job."

Outside of distilling Lars is a musician and loves riding motorcycles in the dirt.