Category Archives: Spirits

Things that have been distilled

Skunk Brothers – Testing The Limits of What’s in a Name

Skunk Brothers in Stevenson, WA. Boy, doesn’t that name make you want to pour some of their liquids down your throat…? I can’t say that the name works for me, but I guess in terms of a name, it is memorable.

Before we get there let’s start with a nice photo. Here’s Joyce representing her inner Viking Shield Maiden. She’s being nice about it here. Don’t make her kick your ass.

Skunk

Follow the signs, Neo.

Ok, they are so new that they suffer the challenge new whiskey distilleries have. It takes a few years to have aged product to offer customers. Their real product is at least a year off. So it goes.

What you can carry away today are fine things made from unaged white lightening. Our fav was the Apple Pie which has a delightful apple flavor and avoids the syrupy sweet flavor we’ve had elsewhere.

Their tasting room is attractively appointed and a nice cool place after the summer sun.

It’s a family affair there at Skunk Brothers. That day Jamie Donoho was wo-manning the tasting room. She favored us with a quick tour of their shiny facility and took excellent care of us. Two thumbs up for the tasting experience.

While their building is classic dull modern light-industrial park, across the parking lot is the glory of the Columbia Gorge.

…and right there is where an international kiteboarding competition is held. While we watched kiteboarder after kiteboarder launched themselves 30 feet in the air right in front of us.

Heritage Distilling

When in Gig Harbor, WA why not stop in and visit Heritage Distilling?

It’s a lovely place, this Gig Harbor:

water

If you look close, you’ll see a giant monster volcano decorating the sky and waiting to turn us snotty northwest types into volcanic ash or disaster refugees…

water

Should you need to settle your nerves, here’s Kelton, your friendly tasting room guide.

awesome

Then there’s this guy:

Welcome to the Pacific NorthWest.  We do things maybe a little different. In this case, you can get a growler of booze.  A GROWLER OF BOOZE.  Up here in the Portland area, growler stations for filling bottles to-go has gotten quite popular for our fine craft brews.  This is the first time I’ve seen it for spirits.

Joyce is fond of the brown spirits, so here’s a close-up of our tasting.  Overall we rate their offering as “dang fine” though it’s clear their offering will improve as they have more time to age their product.  They sell a wide variety of flavored vodkas.  We’re not fond of those – what’s the point of something that tastes like nothing, except this bit tastes like blueberries?  Whoop-de-do, can I just have some blueberries?  However, from a business perspective a distillery has to sell something today while they wait for their aged product to be ready for market.  The way to enjoy vodka is to go here: http://kachkapdx.com/

Anyhoo – their gin products are also worthy of attention.  Check out their “soft gin”.  You heard it here first!

yes

I generally like to post positive product reviews, but sometimes I’m forced to warn the reader.  In this case, their Brown Sugar Bourbon – http://heritagedistilling.com/product-tag/bsb-brown-sugar-bourbon/ is something they are pushing on customers.  I’ve even seen TV commercials for it.

Ok, maybe you’ll like it, in which case please enjoy.  However, if you’re interested in one spirit over another, you can save yourself the time and money by just buying a bunch of this: http://www.quakeroats.com/products/hot-cereals/instant-oatmeal/maple-and-brown-sugar.aspx cuz, that’s what it tastes like.  And if you include it in your tasting flight, don’t drink it last because the cloying sweet maple flavor will follow you for a long time.

Also, be sure to double-check your receipt before making your way out.  They charged us incorrectly and we didn’t notice until later.  I’m sure they would have fixed it had we been willing to drag my malfunctioning hip back to their location to discuss.

New Deal Distillery

Distillery

Tasting

We walked out of Vinn into a crazy downpour. So instead of riding off we strode across the street to New Deal Distillery. The New Deal tasting experience is quite the contrast to Vinn. New Deal has bounced around to a few locations and the current one is a quite pleasant mix of dark wood and decor providing a tip of the hat the era of the New Deal and industrial production space nicely showing off the shiny brass equipment.

And it was busy! Their staff was kept hopping serving groups of tasters. Fortunately we had no reason to hurry and spent the time exploring their location.

Products? Fine stuff. I skipped tasting their vodkas, because why bother tasting something that’s not supposed to have a taste…? I enjoyed their rum which has a big buttery taste. They had three gins yesterday. The standout one is not on their web site. I believe it was called Tom Strong. They age it in wine barrels for nine months and it definitely picks up an interesting character which I enjoyed.

They offer a short list of very tasty-sounding cocktails. Were we not on the pork trail for an overdue meal we would have stayed and taken those beverages for a test-ride.

– Steve

Vinn Distillery

Mike!

This is Matthew, our tasting guide at Vinn Distillery’s tasting room in Portland’s Distillery Row.

If you’ve read any number of our other posts one of my interests is in the science of perception and how the environment around any food/beverage product is presented affects how it tastes to you. This continues to be a life-long study.

This blog focuses on the experience of tasting. There are so many great flavors out there, so many great products to buy. What makes us open our wallets and buy is something more than what’s on the plate or in the glass. Let’s see what we can learn, shall we?

We got a hearty greeting from Mike as we came in, and he graciously let us park our giant bike in the tasting room so the seats would stay dry. Vinn has an interesting history and story. In short they produce a Chinese style distilled spirit that’s made from rice. From what I could gather in our short introduction, there are some similarities in production to sake, but it’s not the same.  Definitely worth stopping in and hearing the story for yourself.

Their number one product is a big drink in China – Baijiu. My favorite product they have there is the Mijiu Fire, which is made from the black rice.

I’m a sucker for a good story and learning new things. Had fun here, definitely will return.

– Steve