Sunday, November 23, 2008

Distillery Open House Goodies

bounty from the distilleryAndrew and I were proud of ourselves for schlepping all the way across the Bay today - of course, it was really nice out and we had already purchased tickets to a distillery open house. (Yes, Skim, when we found out you couldn't come, we thought about bailing too, because it wasn't the same without you there!) Well, let me just say that I was impressed. For two people who don't drink a lot of hard liquor, we were a bit overwhelmed by the 3 drink tickets apiece, plus the woman at the front found out our third party wasn't coming, so she gave us tickets to taste the fancy pay-extra absinthe and aged pear brandy. Plus, somehow I got an additional 3 drink tickets in my complimentary tasting glass! Did I mention that was on top of all the "normal" liquor tastings you didn't need a ticket for? Yeah. Crazy!

Needless to say, Andrew did not partake of more than one specialty drink (he's a responsible driver). He preferred the "Runway" pomegranate/citrus drink. I tried to pace myself since the first "Pear Takes a Holiday" hit me pretty quick. Although they did have food served there, it wasn't like a sit-down dinner and did I mention we were sipping all sorts of liquors the whole time?

So would you like the list? I'll see if I can remember everything. First off, 2 vodka ice luges. Cool to look at (no, pun not intended!) and lots of flavors. I, myself, enjoy vodka - Andrew not so much. But I found it interesting that the 2 guys who distill this vodka start with viognier (yes, wine) and then distill that with the typical wheat. Then they infuse fruit flavors (yes, from real fruit!) and come out with very tasty, gorgeous-smelling vodkas. Their seasonal flavor they just started producing is the spiced pear, which I loved and purchased a bottle of before we left. Their spring/summer seasonal flavor is raspberry, which sounded very tasty, but they had sold out months ago, so we didn't get to taste any. My second favorite was the Mandarin Blossom, which was also lovely. Others they had but we did not try: the classic, citron, and lime.

Surprisingly, I also really enjoyed the Pear Liqueur which had a wonderful fruit flavor and filled the front and middle of my mouth with flavor, which was different from the vodka which hit the back of my tongue. We also tried their single-malt whiskeys (despite the intensity and passion of the tasting-booth man, I am still not a whiskey girl!), white and black-tea liqueurs (interesting for tea-lovers), and of course the 20-year-aged pear brandy, the apple brandy for comparison, and the absinthe verte. The last three were interesting to try, but I now can confidently say that I need never have absinthe again (I swore off Jager years ago, and I still hate anise flavor!). The brandy had a nice flavor, but if I'm going to drink that, I want to be sipping it while relaxing with friends in front of a fire at home. We both skipped the Agave (tequila does not do good things for either of us).

Spaced throughout the liquor tasting tables were the food tables - some with catered food, some with samples and food to buy. I befriended the chocolate vendors (good lord, but their chocolate was incredible - even the hot chocolate with whiskey!), and Andrew befriended the pork products vendors (who can resist a motto of "tasty salted pig parts"? - sorry Viv!). There was semi-live music, which was actually really cool in a large converted hangar - first guitar player playing along with a music track, and then a rockin group of two DJs playing mixes off their computers, with a live drummer hittin the beats. They had some great-sounding stuff (and it wasn't because we'd been drinking all afternoon!).

All-in-all, it was a fun day. Our stomachs weren't so used to consuming so many different hard liquors and so early in the afternoon, but we were exposed to some lovely local distilled liquors that we will definitely keep in mind for future group gatherings! Plus, did I mention they're located on the old naval base (hence the name Hangar 1 for the vodkas) and even the port-a-potties were like airplane bathrooms inside! Plus, Andrew came home with tasty pork products (that also reside in the Ferry Building, as do the chocolatiers - nice!), I came home with some tasty spiced pear vodka perfect for the holiday season, and we now have a set of tasting glasses and a sampling of yummy chocolates! (Oh, and yes, the popcorn bag in the picture is what they package the vodka bottle in!)

We've had fun exploring our local vendors the past few years, and it's lots of fun to go to see where they make the actual products. I highly recommend checking out some local open houses of vendors near you if they have them. We've favorited the winemakers and now distillers, and some might find the price a little high, but I've found that the opportunity to taste and discover some new favorites (and more importantly not spending money on the ones you don't like!) added to the experience is totally worth it!

1 comment:

vivzan said...

They gave you two a lot to drink! I first saw the photo on flickr and thought it was peculiar that you got some popcorn! Pretty interesting that they use it as wrapping.

I also can't stand Anise, btw. Blech!


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