America is loving a rise in artisanal craft distilleries. From the Hudson Valley to the Pacific Coast Rain Forest, the opportunity to visit and taste some of the best spirits being made since the prohibition era are numerous. Here’s a rundown of five of the most popular for you to consider visiting this year.
Normally, we’re talking about what foods pair with what spirits, but have you ever considered what clothes pair with what distilleries? Along with the rise of the artisanal spirit, there’s also a great interest in the return of classic men’s fashion, which presents ample opportunity to compliment your travels and tastings at these micro-distilleries with the perfect outfits. Fellas, this one’s for you.
Tuthilltown Distillery in Gardner, NY
Located in the heart of the Hudson Valley, Tuthilltown Distillery in Gardner, NY resides in the oldest water-powered flour mill in the state. Started in 2003, Tuthilltown has the distinction and honor of being the first whiskey distillery in New York State since the Prohibition. Upon arrival, you’re put at ease with the beautiful scenery of the valley and soothing sound of the river that once powered the mill. Their tasting room continues this rustic feel with rough sawn boards adorning the walls and floor and old oak barrels stacked up in corners, reminding you exactly why you’re here in the first place: to imbibe.
Employing locally-grown heirloom pre-GMO corn for their whiskies and bourbons, Tuthilltown prides themselves in the full flavor and fine finish that these ingredients impart to their spirits. At $15, the tasting and tour will both enrich and entertain, but be warned, you will not go home empty-handed. Two of Tuthilltown’s most talked about spirits — the Hudson Baby Bourbon and Hudson Manhattan Whiskey — somehow always seem to sneak their way into people’s home liquor cabinets.
Fall is a beautiful time to visit the Hudson Valley, so this distillery will pair well with a thick, warm shawl-collar cardigan and a comfortable pair of flat-front, classic khakis or dark wash, broken-in, straight-leg jeans. Perfect for trying the New York Whiskey – an experimental whiskey with each batch different from the previous.
Celebration Distillation in New Orleans
If your travels have you experiencing some Cajun flair, beignets, and gumbo, then you must plan a visit to the famous Celebration Distilleries, just a ten-minute jaunt from the French Quarter in New Orleans. Founded in 1995, Celebration is the oldest premium rum distillery in the US. Upon entering the ancient cotton warehouse, you’re immediately greeted with the scent of molasses and vanilla: two of their key ingredients.
Celebration Distilleries specializes in the perfecting of just three types of rum, but at $10, your money goes a long way as each tour begins with an expertly mixed Old New Orleans Cocktail and concludes with an extensive tasting of each product. While you’re there, you might want to investigate the 10 Year Special Edition Rum, a post-Katrina discovery that’s available in limited quantity and only at the distillery.
New Orleans is a fantastic late spring or early summer getaway, so your experience at this distillery will do well with a fine short-sleeved linen shirt and flat-front khaki shorts. Also, don’t forget those low-top white sneakers to keep you cool as you ask for seconds of that sassy Cajun Spice Rum — a masterful blend of cinnamon, cayenne, ginger, and several other spices.
Bendistillery in Bend, OR
Nestled just at the edge of the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests, and off the beaten path of up-and-coming Bend, OR, Bendistillery is awash in the beautiful bounty of the nation’s largest natural juniper forest, nourishing sun, and crisp, clean rivers cascading from the mountains. And this is exactly the kind of inspiration and ingredients Bendistillery employs to craft their small batch vodkas and gins.
Less of a distillery and more of an infusion house, Bendistillery creates one of a kind award-winning spirits using hand-picked juniper berries from the forest, and each batch is slow filtered through the same lava rock that purifies the region’s rivers. Their tasting room has a contemporary-meets-nature feel. Tastings are free and any cocktail you desire is only a $3 investment.
While there, you do not want to miss their much talked about Crater Lake Pepper Vodka, a careful infusion of five kinds of sweet and spicy peppers. To cool the palate after, take a shot of their award-winning Coffee Hazelnut Vodka.
The rustic scene juxtaposed against the contemporary decor of this distillery will make it easy for you to enjoy the fine spirits in your favorite flannel and jeans. Even a mountain man needs to enjoy the finer things, one of which is their Estate Reserve Vodka and Gin. Story goes, the filtration system was accidentally left on during a holiday break, and the vodka, being filtered over 100 times, became the purest in flavor and finish anyone had ever tasted. A bottle of that will go a long way in your mountain resort cabin.
Eastside Distilling in Portland, OR
If you’re doing the hip urban scene on your vacation, then Portland has you covered. Tucked away in its Southeast Industrial District, you’ll find Distillery Row — a conglomeration of independent craft distillers all dedicated to making the finest spirits around.
One of these pioneers, Eastside Distilling, has been specializing in seasonal liquors and the popular flavored Below Deck Rums since 2009. Don’t get me wrong, they’re certainly no slouch in the whiskey department, as their Burnside Bourbon has quite a following all on its own. It’s a spicy spirit that’s bottled at a whopping 96 proof.
The tasting room at Eastside is a small, intimate space, but the selection to try is indeed large. For a mere $5 you can do a lengthy tasting of all they have on hand, as well as anything new coming out for the season. Rumor has it that you can find a tasting and tour deal via Groupon that has you walking away with your own commemorative glass.
The urban distillery scene is the perfect time to break out that classic tweed blazer and favorite dress shirt (sans tie). Add your best dark indigo jeans to lend a touch of casual, but don’t overlook a straight, sharp pocket square and polished dress shoes to complement the refined finish of Eastside’s special Burnside Double Barrel Bourbon — a mellow, manly musk added to the existing spice using heavily charred oak barrels.
Fremont Mischief Distillery in Seattle, WA
What’s in a name? Well, you tell me after you visit Fremont Mischief Distillery in Seattle. Located down on historic Canal Street, Mischief obtained its name from the pranking antics of two best friends, one of whom bears the legal name of Sherlock.
Mischief prides itself in the exclusive use of local heirloom grains sourced from family-owned Ebey Road Farms. To bring even more unique flair to their spirits, each batch is concocted in artisan stills crafted by hand from a German family with a 50-year history.
You know you’re someplace special when you step into their famous free tasting room. As you poke around carrying a glass of their acclaimed eight-year rye whiskey or clean, crisp vodka, keep an eye out for the old and the odd. Described as part steampunk and part speakeasy, the Mischief tasting room is a maze of drawers, trinkets, and artifacts all hearkening to days gone by. But no trip to Mischief would be complete without a taste of the John Jacob, a high-class rye whiskey that is supposedly created from “Great-Grandfather’s” recipe.
Your time at Mischief Distilleries can only be enhanced by your best period dress. Whether it’s the gray flannel suit of the G-Man, or the pinstripe three-piece Gangster get-up, you’ll be at home pretending it’s prohibition with a glass of the unusual Rex Velvet — a vodka infused with beets, lending a deep red hue and rich flavor; self-described as a sinister spirit.
This year, why not plan on visiting one or all of these fantastic micro-distilleries? But don’t overlook your chance to enhance the time and taste of these establishments and their craft spirits by dressing the part. What’s more memorable? The cheese you had with that mainstream label whiskey or the fine tweed blazer you paired with that slow-filtered, charred oak-aged bourbon from one of these fine tasting rooms?
Photo Credits: myronreynard, Fire Engine Red, jesswebb 9CUMSUMVZGD7