I recently had to do a lot of research for some articles I was working on for Distiller Magazine. And by research, I mean I had to sip and slurp a lot of vodka, gin, whiskey, tequila and everything in between—I know, twist my arm.
Both are open to the public, though my interest in writing about them afforded me a peek behind the curtain.
St. George Spirits
We made an appointment for the tasting and tour. The tour was conducted with a large group and began in the distillery with a quick 101 lesson on how most, if not all, hard liquor is produced.
Standing in front of the giant copper stills and fractionating columns, we had the chance to ask our questions (some of us more than others), and I must say, they give a solid overview of how they make their delicious gins, vodkas, absynthe, and liquors. No head-scratching here.
From there we walked the barrel room, which is the same giant space as the distillery because St. George Spirits now occupies a retired airplane hangar on the defunct Alameda military base.
We got to smell some of the botanical blend flavoring their popular gins, and our expert helped demystify the myth that absynthe has hallucinogenic powers.
Once the group was done taking their Instagram photos of the giant shark prop left behind by a film studio, we stepped into the tasting room where we got to pick up to six different spirits to try.
…and the rest, as you’d expect, is a blur.
Spirit Works Distillery
My husband and I spend a lot of time in Sonoma, bouncing around from one winery to the next, so it’s nice to spice things up with some of the hard stuff every once in awhile.
Located in the Barlow complex in downtown Sebastopol, you’ll find Spirit Works Distillery. Inside the tasting room, you can try their vodkas, gins, sloe gin (which I’d never had before), and whiskeys.
What I love about Spirit Works is the vibe and approach they take to distilling. Not only are they good at what they do, but head distiller, Laure Patz, is continuously trying new recipes. When I was there, she’d just finished a test batch of aquavit that singed my nose hairs with the smell of anise.
Then she let me smell the latest batch of their sloe gin, which was still macerating with the fruit.
They’ve also experimented with the impact music has on the aging process, but playing music for some of the barrels of whiskey.
Friendly, knowledgeable and passionate; that’s how I’d describe the staff at Spirit Works, which is great for the curious cat that I am.
Have a good Bay Area distillery you think we should visit? Let us know in the comments below.