Finding the Best Small-Batch Liquors in Stumptown
Portland has long been a hotbed of innovation in the world of beverages. For example, the city was the birthplace of several of our nation’s high quality tea brands. And, while our contributions to American craft brewing and independent small-batch coffee roasting have brought the city to near-legendary status, we didn’t (until recently) have much in the way of locally distilled spirits to round out the PDX beverage portfolio.
Well all that has changed over the last decade, as several small batch distillers have put Portland on the micro-distillery map. And many of the pioneers in Oregon’s small batch distillery scene all have one thing in common: they were born of Portland’s Distillery Row.
The pocket of inner Southeast Portland between Division and Stark Streets and the Willamette and Eleventh Avenue, remains home to no less than eight of Oregon’s premier distillers. Hold on to your palate and let’s tour the who’s-who of spirit makers on Distillery Row.
Eastside Distilling, at 1512 SE 7th Avenue, has been winning awards with their seasonal holiday liqueurs, naturally flavored rums, potato vodka, flavored whiskeys, American whiskey, and small batch bourbons since they appeared on the scene in 2008. Their seasonal offerings include Egg Nog Liqueur, Holiday Spiced Liqueur, and Peppermint Bark Liqueur.
House Spirits Distillery
House Spirits began its life in 2004, down in Corvallis. In 2005 they moved north to Portland, where they launched their extremely popular American AVIATION Gin. They followed that up with the launch of their Krogstad Aquavit, Volstead Vodka, and Westward Whiskey—all of which are in distribution to local liquor stores. Additionally, they now make seasonal small-batch spirits that are available only at their tasting room at 65 SE Washington Street.
New Deal Distillery
Also founded in 2004, New Deal has been producing their award-winning spirits at Southeast 9th and Salmon for more than a decade now. They produce vodka under two brand names, flavored vodka, two levels of gin, several liqueurs, rum, and special holiday offerings. They offer cocktail and distilling classes to the general public as well.
Rolling River Spirits
Rolling River, at 1215 SE 8th, has been producing spirits since 2011. They currently distill vodka, flavored vodkas, gin, and several varieties of aquavit, with plans to begin whiskey production in the near future.
Stone Barn Brandyworks
Stone Barn Brandyworks, a little off the beaten path at 3315 SE 19th, produces brandies and other spirits made from Oregon and Pacific NW fruits and grains. They specialize in apple and other fruit brandies, but have taken to producing rye whiskey when the fruits they need are out of season locally.
Thomas and Sons Distillery
Thomas & Sons, also a little off the row at 4211 SE Milwaukee, is the pet distilling project of local tea chain Townshend’s Tea Company. They produce a line of tea liqueurs, Amaro, as well as a range of other botanical spirits, all of which are distilled from fermented tea and sugar.
Wild Roots Vodka
A short walk north of Distillery Row on NE 6th, Wild Roots produces an all-natural line of vodkas flavored with the near-legendary berries and other produce of the Pacific Northwest.
Keep Your Spirits Special: Keep It Local
This holiday season, as your eye surveys the gaps in your liquor cabinet and as you try to find the perfect gifts for your friends, coworkers, and relatives, remember that Portland’s Distillery Row can help you keep the bar local while providing you with all you need to round out your holiday shopping.
Small-batch distilled spirits, much like Oregon craft brews, make for great holiday celebrations. Just don’t forget to stock up on locally roasted coffee for the morning after!