The siblings that own Vinn Distillery come from a long line of distillers. Their ancestors grew up in remote villages around China and Vietnam, where a scarcity of alcohol forced them to learn how to make it for themselves. So they began distilling their own alcohol to be used for celebratory and everyday drinking, as well as medicinal purposes. Vinn Distillery carries on that tradition by using the same family recipes that have been passed down for more than seven generations. Read on to learn more about this family affair:
Vinn's spirits are all gluten-free. That's because they use fermented rice to create their alcohols, including vodka, whiskey, and blackberry liqueur.
Vinn produces China's most popular drink. Baijiu, a clear liquor made primarily from sorghum and rice, may be the national drink of China, but it's relatively unknown to American drinkers. According to the New York Times, it's been described as "resembling stinky cheese, anise, pineapples, musk and gasoline." Yet it has a slew of die-hard fans. The Times recommends first-timers put baijiu in a cocktail, saying "because it has so many flavors, it works well in a variety of combinations." If you want to try it by itself, you can't go wrong with Vinn's baijiu, which won a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
You can try Vinn's baijiu and other beverages on Distillery Row. Vinn's tasting room is located in Portland's Lower East Side Industrial District. Its neighbors include seven other independent distilleries.
No part of the distilling process is taken for granted at Rolling River Spirits. For proof, just look to the Portland-based company's custom-made equipment. Master distiller turns out Rolling River's vodkas, gin, and aquavits with a hand-made Alembic-style still and a continuous run reflex column, the former for single and double-run processes and the latter for volume. The result of all this fuss is organic spirits that have been labored over from the first gush of water to the last gush of people going, "Mmmm." Read on for a few examples of what you'll find at the tasting room:
Ole Bjørkevoll Aquavit: 84 proof spirit with caraway, fresh dill, fennel, and juniper
Vodka: 80 proof pure-grain vodka made from organic wheat
Gin: 84 proof gin made from pure grains and organic ingredients
What services does your business offer and what makes your business stand out from the competition?
Wild Roots is an all natural, handcrafted infused vodka that represents the best of the Northwest. Every bottle of Wild Roots contains over one pound of locally sourced fruit, giving the vodka a unique color, smell, feel and homegrown taste.
What is one of your most popular offerings? How is it prepared?
Northwest Red Raspberry, Oregon Marionberry, Washington Apple
Making Better Booze
All distilleries offer spirits, but few offer hope. That's not the case with New Deal Distillery, whose manifesto reminds readers that ". . . things can suck, but that you can still find your good things and your joy."
Crafting the Product
Celebrating 10 years in business, New Deal Distillery uses a custom-made Christian Carl copper still to make all of their products and spirits, which range from the award-winning Hot Monkey vodka to the savory, full-bodied winter gin.
Drinking on Distillery Row
Stop by the distillery's tasting room to sample its offerings—including those from the Distiller's Workshop Series. Located on Portland's Distillery Row, New Deal is open to visitors Wednesday–Sunday, five out of the seven days of the week that are best for boozing.
Eastside Distilling's tasty lineup of spirits draws accolades from fans near and far, with the small-batch outfit taking home hardware including a gold medal at the 2012 MicroLiquor Spirit Awards, SIP Magazine's runner-up in the Best of Spirits section for Best Brown Liquor for their Burnside Bourbon, Portland Mercury’s 2011 Readers' Choice award for favorite distillery, and a silver medal from the 2011 World Spirits Competition for their Below Deck Coffee Rum. Within the tasting room, visitors sample libations such as the Portland Potato Vodka, their Below Deck rum line, Cherry Bomb Whiskey or Oregon Marionberry Whiskey.
According to Portland Monthly, Stone Barn Brandyworks team Sebastian and Erika Degens "are not afraid to follow their curiosity." The proof is in the eclectic variety of booze the two have dreamed up, a testament to their willingness to try anything. What they describe as "craft distilled, regionally sourced fruit brandies and brandy-based liqueurs," the high-proof fruits of their labor include a European style Bartlett Pear Brandy, two year-old Straight Rye Whiskey with chocolate barley malt, Quince Liqueur, Nocino (green walnut liqueur) and Ouzo from pinot gris pomace.