Have you noticed how much the craft distillery movement has grown in the past couple of years? (If you’re thinking what movement?, just google for distilleries in your area of the world. They really are popping up everywhere – and I’m not talking about make-you-blind wild hootch, I am talking about fine, tasty spirits: vodka, gin, whiskey, bourbon, and more.
Craft distilleries – or small batch distilleries, among a variety of other terms – are popping up given the big push for small businesses, as well as fuelled by consumer desires for local food, which seems to extend to libations!
While planning an entire trip around simply spending your days sipping by the still could result in a rather nasty headache, there are some beautiful destinations where you’ll find plenty of craft distilleries to enjoy along the way.
If any area of the United States – arguably the most prolific producer of craft spirits – is a hotbed of spirited brewing, it’s the Pacific Northwest. Both Oregon and Washington have favourable laws for distillers, in addition to a populace that supports the local movement. Portland has quite a few distilleries within the city limits – Eastside Distilling and New Deal being two of the most popular (and in my opinion, the best) – but there are quite a few other great spots to visit. Don’t miss Bendistillery, not far from Bend, another great town to visit. Also, take a look at the label of those Washington spirits; their laws dictate that craft distillers must use at least 51% Washington ingredients, so you’ll see things you don’t see elsewhere – like apple brandy.
You must be thinking, distilleries in outer London? Not rubbish. Totally true. Sacred Spirits started out like your classic startup – in a garage, basically. But an ex-finance guy is making waves with a totally new take on gin. Sipsmith Distillery in Hammersmith claims to be the first distillery to open in London after a 200 year gap, and offers interesting tours of their facility – worth the trip. Going further afield, one of the largest craft distilleries in England is the makers of Chase Vodka, which was born in Hertfordshire. Keep an eye out at your local shop.
Last but certainly not least is South Africa: what it lacks in population and sheer numbers, it makes up for in knowledge. It’s home to some of the most sophisticated micro-distilleries in the world, and many even come here to attend the in-depth training seminars available. The two libations made popular here are fruit brandies and Italian grappa; Jorgensen’s, Wilderer, and Schoemanati are just a few of the thriving distilleries. Interestingly, some of the country’s long-famed wineries have also started making their own spirits. If you should choose to do a wine and a spirits tasting – bring paracetamol!
Posted : Thursday, May 16th, 2013 at 10:00
Andy Hayes is based in sunny Portland, Oregon. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he works on his own lifestyle publication, Plum Deluxe.