By Brian Jewell
Call it a microrevolution — all around North America, microdistilleries are making a mark on the beverage scene.
Although the production of whiskey, gin, rum and other potent potables has long been the territory of well-known international conglomerates, the past decade has seen a surge of small local operations that produce fine spirits in small batches.
Microdistilleries around the United States and Canada are creating new versions of classic concoctions and introducing visitors to their process along the way.
If you have connoisseurs in your group, treat them with a visit to one of these microdistilleries on your next trip.
House Spirits Distillery
In an area of Portland known as Distillery Row, House Spirits Distilleries has been producing inventive versions of classic spirits since 2004.
“We started out with a vodka and our Aviation gin,” said Alise Moffatt, the distillery’s “spirit guide.” “We also have a Krogstad Aquavit, a traditional Swedish spirit with star anise and caraway. It’s a centuries-old spirit that predates gin — it’s what the Vikings used to drink.”
The distillery also does a Stillroom series of small-batch spirits, including aged rum, aged whiskey, white whiskey and coffee liqueur.
Groups can make arrangements to have private tours of the small distillery. Tours include an overview of the distilling process, along with a visit to the apothecary shop, where visitors can taste House Spirits products and browse a small retail area that sells specialized cocktail wares.
The staff can also offer cocktail classes for groups.
“We provide meats and cheeses and go through about eight different cocktails using our spirits,” Moffatt said. “We do everything from daiquiris to a White Zombie, which uses our white whiskey.”
— www.housespirits.com —
Corsair Artisan Distillery
Bowling Green, Ky./Nashville, Tenn.
In 2008, some Nashville locals with a background in biofuel production decided to put their chemistry skills to a different use and opened Corsair Artisan Distillery. The operation began in Bowling Green, Ky., and then expanded to Nashville after Tennessee laws changed to allow it in 2009.
Groups today can tour both distilleries and taste a variety of creative and experimental products.
“In Bowling Green, we make gin, spiced rum, vanilla bean vodka and spiced absinthe,” said sales director Jason Ingram. “At our Nashville distillery, we make our whiskeys — both aged and unaged — like our Triple Smoke Whiskey. We also do dozens of whiskey prototypes.
On tours, visitors start by seeing the mash used to make whiskey and then visit the stillroom, where the Nashville crew uses a still that is nearly a century old.
From there, the tour proceeds to a tasting room, where visitors get five to seven samples of the company’s popular products and some of the prototypes currently being produced.
— www.corsairartisan.com —
Next: Roundhouse Spirits
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