Oregonians Are In Fine Spirits

by | Jan 7, 2009

Oregon’s artisan culture has given rise to a full fledged microdistilling movement. The Seattle Times published a detailed and glowing review of the scene last June.

With 17 microdistilleries in Oregon, and eight more startups expected across the state by year’s end, spirits aficionados haven’t seen anything like this in recent memory.

Collectively, the distillers help shape the bar and culinary scene in Portland. The Rose City is now seeing a renaissance of classic cocktails, and some high-end restaurants are trying experimental pairings of food with spirits.

“The distillery scene here is where the wine industry in California was in the 1960s,” said Steve McCarthy, owner of Clear Creek Distillery, one of the nation’s first microdistilleries. “We are rewriting all the rules. The artisan distilleries are making up a whole new industry.”

One of the most valuable offerings in the piece is the sidebar, where the state’s microdistillers are listed.

In Portland, there’s Clear Creek Distillery, House Spirits Distillery, Ransom Spirits, Sub Rosa Spirits, Integrity Spirits, Highball Distillery, New Deal Distillery, Rogue Spirits Portland and Edgefield Distillery.

Elsewhere in the Beaver state there’s Bendistillery, BU-TAY Vodka and Liquid Vodka in Bend. Plus Brandy Peak Distillery in Brookings; Dolmen Distillery in McMinnville; Hood River Distillers in Hood River; Indio Spirits in Cottage Grove; and Rogue Spirits in Newport.

Among the spirits being crafted here: whiskey aged in Oregon oak, pear brandy, pinot noir brandy, gewürztraminer grappa, Eastern-style gin, hazelnut spiced rum, vodka infused with hot pepper, saffron, tarragon, chocolate and basil.

Listen to OPB’s Think Out Loud show dedicated to the topic.