As the much-lauded birthplace of the microbrewery boom, Portland has become Mecca for fans of craft brewing. Now, Stumptown distillers are hoping to replicate that success with a craft distillation revolution.
The epicenter of this movement lies in Southeast Portland’s Distillery Row, where you’ll find four key distilleries, each with its own style and line of spirits: House Spirits Distillery, New Deal Distillery, Integrity Spirits, and Stone Barn Brandyworks.
House Spirits Distillery may be best known for its nationally distributed and much-accoladed Aviation Gin and Krogstad Aquavit, but a unique array of small-batch artisan spirits is available exclusively at its Apothecary (the distillery store) in the Buckman neighborhood.
These unique spirits include a variety of aged and unaged whiskeys, Uchi no Kami Shochu (a Japanese-style spirt based on fermented rice and Koji mold) and a unique aged rum.
The spirits in the Apothecary line are crafted in small batches so they are often snapped up pretty quickly. Hardcore spirit enthusiasts are encouraged to become members of the Apothecary Club ($75 a year), which provides access to special tastings, events and first crack at House Spirits' very limited releases.
The Apothecary also offers specialized bar accessories and is one of the only places in Portland to pick up things like Japanese mixing glasses and classic cocktail books.
House Spirits offers a custom barrel program that enables restaurants and businesses to have their own brand and style of spirit. The best example of this program is at Urban Farmer (located inside The Nines Hotel), which servers its own custom whiskey distilled at House Spirits.
2025 SE 7th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214
Hours: Apothecary: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tours: Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Best known for its line of vodkas, New Deal adds a distinct culinary twist to its products, which includes Hot Monkey (hot pepper-infused vodka), Mud Puddle (chocolate-infused vodka), Portland 88 (higher proof vodka distilled in a copper still for more flavor and edge), and New Deal (signature vodka with a botanical undertone).
New Deal’s newest offering is Gin No. 3, a bright and juniper-forward gin that is decidedly different than traditional London dry gins.
New Deal not only distills its own line of spirits, it’s also home to Deco Distilling (which makes Deco Silver, a white rum, and Deco Ginger, a ginger rum.), J. Witty Spirits Organic Chamomile Liqueur and LOFT Organic Liqueurs, including Lavendar Cello, Spicy Ginger Cello, and Lemongrass Cello.
1311 SE 9th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214
Hours: Saturday, 12:30 – 5 p.m., Sunday, 1-4 p.m.
Housed in the same space as Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub, Integrity Spirits is best known for its Trillium Absinthe, a high proof (120 proof) anise-flavored spirit which was actually illegal to produce until 1997.
Popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s, absinthe was thought to have psychoactive properties and cause hallucinations. This notion was made popular by painters Vincent van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec and writers Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway. Its reputation about these psychoactive properties earned absinthe the nickname “green fairy.”
Banned as part of the Temperance Movement (and Prohibition), absinthe was considered lost to history until it was proven that the psychoactive buzz was based more on rumor than actual chemistry, and then legalized. Slightly reformulated from its original incarnation (with lower levels of thujone), absinthe has seen a revival and is a popular ingredient around town. Cocktail bars like Teardrop Lounge and Clyde Common offer absinthe in its traditional form: served with ice water dripped from a small fountain over a sugar cube into the absinthe glass (called luging).
Integrity Spirits also produces Lovejoy Vodka, Lovejoy Hazelnut, and 12 Bridges Gin.
909 SE Yamhill Street
Portland, OR 97214
Hours: Saturday, 2-6 p.m.
One of the newest distilleries on Distillery Row, Stone Barn Brandyworks specializes in local and fresh fruit-based spirits. Its small batch approach to distilling allows Stone Barn to experiment with unconventional brandies and liqueurs that wouldn't be possible on a larger scale.
An example of this approach is Stone Barn's Pear Brandy. Pear Brandy is traditionally made from Bartlett pears, but distiller Sebastian Degens had a fondness for Comice pears and wanted to see what pear brandy would taste like using the non-traditional pear varietal. The result is delicious, floral and less sweet brandy.
Sebastian and his partner/wife Erika also produced a small batch strawberry liqueur made from fresh Hood River strawberries. "It's a limited run because the strawberries have a short season," he explains. "So when it's gone, it's gone".
In addition to pear brandy, Stone Barn offers a grappa, apple brandy, unaged rye whiskey, ouzo and a phenomenal coffee liqeur made with Redwing Coffee.
3315 SE 19th Avenue, Suite B
Portland, Oregon 97202
Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Distillery Row Package at Jupiter Hotel
For out-of-town visitors (and Portlanders looking for a unique staycation!), The Jupiter Hotel has put together a special Distillery Row Package which includes overnight accommodations in a Metro room, a day’s passport for local distilleries on nearby Distillery Row, breakfast for two at the Jupiter’s Doug Fir Restaurant and two $20 gift certificates that can be redeemed at any distillery on the tour.
Many of these distillers will also be appearing at the Northwest Spirits and Mixology Show (hosted at the Jupiter Hotel) on Monday, July 26.