Home in Portland, day 1. Xmas shopping done. Mom suggests some family time– visiting “Distillery Row” on Portland’s Eastside (Note for you East Coast readers– this is Portland OREGON not Maine ;). An affiliation of several distilleries has sprung up over recent years. Obviously, this must be investigated.
Our first stop was Eastside Distilling (http://www.eastsidedistilling.com/). A small space with a lively bartender, we enjoyed their tasting of Portland Potato Vodka and silver and dark rums. They offer bourbon and double barreled bourbon, which adds an exquisitely smooth finish. Next up was the Cherry Bomb Whiskey. Infused with Oregon cherries, this adds a nice flavor and sweetness without turning into cherry-flavored cough syrup. next we tried the coffee-infused rum. As the bartender said, no better way to starting a day when you’re out camping. The cold-pressed coffee infusion imparted an excellent coffee flavor. It would be excellent with ice cream or added to warm drinks. Or iced drinks! Next came their holiday liquor samplings– all with the white rum base– spiced (think chai
tea flavors), peppermint bark (chocolate infusion with peppermint oil) and eggnog. the tasting ended with a short cocktail of your choosing– hot apple cider with spiced rum or horchata (Mexican rice milk) with coffee liquor. We went home with some vodka and some liquors my mom will use in martinis. Note: if you end up buying something, the $5 tasting fee is waved so sample before you buy!
Our second (and admittedly final) stop was New Deal Distillery (http://www.newdealdistillery.com/). They’re situated in a large, open space with the tasting counters nestled in a corner among the distillery equipment. For $5 you get a flight of samples and go home with one of their shot glasses. We started the sampling with the New Deal Vodka. Crisp, clean and smooth– no doubt an excellent choice for any liquor cabinet. It was the next sampling, the New Deal Gin 33 that blew us away. New Deal has established its self as not just high class, but high quality. With a strong juniper nose and smooth finish, my step-father couldn’t wait to get a bottle into his stash for future martinis. My folks sampled with unsweetened, cold pressed chocolate infused vodka. I thought it was a bit bitter, made directly from the raw cocoa. My step-father thought it was excellent– funny since I think he enjoys sweets more than my savory self. To each his own! Next up was a choice of either the coffee liqueur or ginger liqueur. I, of course, went for the ginger. What a bite! I love ginger and this did not disappoint. It imparted a strong and savory ginger flavor without overwhelming or making you feel like a ginger-breathing dragon. Which brings us to “Hot Monkey,” their spicy vodka. Infused with five different hot peppers, this has a smooth finish as far as the vodka goes but leaves your mouth with a bit of a burn. I’m sure its great with pineapple juice– in fact, the mixing options are endless! Needless to say, we left with a few more bottles and some new shotglasses.
Note that Distillery Row (http://www.distilleryrowpdx.com/), the affiliation of this neighborhoods distilleries, offers a “passport” which you can have stamped was you walk from place to place and sample the wares. At $20/each, the passport allows you free samplings at all member locations. Sounds like a great activity for out of town guests, birthday parties, etc.
As a side note– how do you feel about Bourbon and being gluten free? Once one of my favorite drinks, a good friend and I have have been debating if we get “the gluten hangover” from Bourbon. I took a (thimble-sized) risk yesterday and feel a little off today– but then I ate a fair bit of chocolate (which my stomach doesn’t enough as much as my mouth) so who’s to say? I know there are the purists who say even the distilling process can’t remove all the gluten… yet I know on principle it in fact should. Let’s go to the empirical evidence– are you gluten free? Do you drink Bourbon? Why or why not? Leave your response below.