And I don’t mean the one in England, because there is another one in Alameda, California. From the windows you can see San Francisco, and the distillery is located in a hanger in an abandoned naval base. That kind of surprised me when I got there and was driving through the gates.
The distillery is mainly know for their eau-de-vies and their Hanger One vodka, which is rather popular in Las Vegas, if I am correct. Everything they produce is made from natural ingredients and their vodka is made from wheat, instead of potatoes. What made me aware of this club was a little film on www.chow.com, about distilling absinthe.
At the distillery you can do a tour and a tasting for $ 15, and the tasting is extensive. The tour itself is nice, not too much new information, but a new perspective from distilling eau de vie instead of mainly whisk(e)y. Everything comes from their one Holstein still, and they usually distill everything from the fermenter, after which they redistill the fore-shots/heads to clean it up again.
Pear Eau de Vie
Like pear popsicles, (a Dutch thing I guess),but a lot of fruity flavours.
Hanger 1 Vodka
Soft and rather gentle, licorice and more licorice. It builds in power if you let it swim for a few seconds. Good stuff. The first vodka I ever tasted that actually has natural flavours!
Hanger 1 Buddha’s Hand
Buddha’s Hand is a sort of fruit similar to lemon, but looking way cooler. They use the peel and not the pulp to make the infusion. Oily lemon and not too fruity. Not fruity but very citrussy. Kind of a contradiction, but tasting is believing in this case…
Hanger 1 Mandarin Blossom
Massive tangerine on the nose but the flavour is overly sweet. The nose is rather interesting but the palate didn’t do it for me.
Lots of pepper and herbal genever. You get more and more different botanicals if you search for them. Very tasty with a bit of fruit in the background.
The terroir gin is made with herbs and spices from local Mount Tam, to represent the part of California just north of San Francisco. Lots of pine notes and crisp ‘northern’ spices. The flavour is a little thin at first and needs some time to loosen up. Dry, peppery and piney mostly.
Firelit Coffee Liqueur
Coffee and booze. I can’t figure out whether this is coffee with a shot in it, or the other way around. Loads of good coffee flavours. I love this stuff!
Raspberry syrup on the nose, massive amounts of fruit, very good. The flavour was a bit strange. The nose was a yes for me, the flavour not so much.
A natural absinthe without colorants. That means varying colors from batch to batch, varying from light brown to olive green. Flavourwise it has a massive nose of anise and fennel. Loads of flavours and spices to discover, but this takes a bit more training to get all the nuances. What I can say is that I love this stuff! Long finish.
So, a big tasting with very small sips. I was driving of course. Luckily we could do half the tasting before the tour, and half afterwards. In the end I don’t know if it was a smart thing to try all of these, but I don’t think I had more alcohol than a proper bottle of beer. Most of the half ounce glasses went down the sink.
The absinthe and the Terroir Gin were terrific, the Coffee Liqueur as well. And trying a vodka that you could actually drink for the flavor of it was an eye opener! Great place, great people, great booze and a great view!