Thursday, March 28, 2013

Drinking Away the Weekend

This past weekend, we took a trip with D's parents to a distillery. In fact, it is the only whiskey distillery in the state! Sons of Liberty opened in 2011, and originally released a whiskey and they called it Uprising.  D's dad had picked some up last summer for D's bachelor party, and it was such a smooth whiskey, and they really enjoyed it.

So, when we first got to the distillery, we were greeted by Danny, who is the sales manager, but also does tours when he's not on the road.  He showed us through the distillery, which actually isn't that big, but the key thing to it is that it is efficient.  Danny explained that they make their whiskey from beer.  He showed us the four types of hops that they use to brew the beer, and explained that the only difference between the four types is how long they are roasted, similar to coffee beans.

Next, he had us open up the lids to the holding containers, where the beer was fermenting.  The first container had such a strong smell, almost like tequila, but that's because it hadn't been distilled a second time yet.  The second container was really cool, because it smelled like beer, and you could actually see the active yeast on the top fermenting the beer.

Next on the tour was the roasting pot, where they roast the hops to get the flavors that they want, and then add in the water to start the distilling process.  

Next, we were shown the actual still where the whiskey is made.  The thing is huge, and was custom designed by the owner of Sons of Liberty, Michael, and the company that he designed the still with is now selling them on the floor.  As you can tell from the picture below, the still is large enough to actually get into, which they do every so often for cleaning.  The four windows that you see on the pipe allow you to see the level of which the liquid is at, and there are gauges all over the different pipes so that they can read the levels of alcohol.

Danny also talked with us about how they make their vodka, which is done using the same machines that they use to make the whiskey.  For their flavored vodkas, they use all natural ingredients and actually do all of the work themselves.  One of their flavored vodkas is Mint Cucumber, and they sat around together and zested over 500 cucumbers by hand and de-stemmed mint leaves just to create the flavor.  They were actually asking if we knew of any different cucumber recipes that they could use because after their zesting parties, they have all these unused cucumber cores and don't know what to do with them!

After our tour was over, we went up to the bar to do the tasting.  You may know that I'm not really a drinker, so I was unsure of how much I would enjoy the process.  But, I really enjoyed it.  The bartender, Brian, was great, and was so helpful in giving us information about the different spirits.  

We tried the Uprising Whiskey, which we had all already had before, and while it was too strong for my liking, since I don't really do hard alcohols, especially whiskey, it was smoother than others I have had before.  

We were also told about the different seasonal spirits that they make. Last year, they made a Single Malt Whiskey, and sold all 900 bottles that they made.  Another seasonal flavor that they created was the Pumpkin Spice Whiskey which was apparently also a really big hit.  Danny, the salesman, told us that as of three weeks ago, there were only 4 bottles left in the state! I was really looking forward to trying that one, since I love pumpkin, but they didn't even have a bottle for themselves!

After the whiskies, we moved onto the vodkas.  I'm not a huge fan of vodka, but I must say that I did really enjoy these.  The regular vodka was strong, but still was good.  The seasonal vodkas, however, were my favorite.  The first one was the Mint Cucumber Vodka, which I mentioned previously.  You really get a strong cucumber flavor at the first taste, but the after taste is where the mint comes in. It's such a fresh taste, especially for me not liking cucumber!  Brian told us that making a mojito with this vodka would be perfect because of the mint, but would also add a little surprise in there with the cucumber flavoring.

The second vodka was my absolute favorite! It's Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Bean Vodka.  The smell of it is just so chocolatey, but the after taste is where you really get the vanilla flavor.  Danny wanted us to taste it in a mixed drink, so he ended up taking some and mixing it up with Rum Chata, which is a Caribbean Rum with real Dairy Cream.  When you originally smell it, it smells like carrot cake, which I just happen to love.  The Rum Chata really brought out the vanilla flavor, and it was absolutely delicious! I loved it, and ended up taking D's too, since he's not a fan of carrot cake, and didn't really enjoy the combination.  

That was the last drink that we sampled, and our experience at Sons of Liberty was awesome. We will definitely be going back, because the staff and experience were awesome!  Part of the tasting was the Sons of Liberty glass, which has already gotten great use, because I went to the liquor store the next day and stocked up.  I got a bottle of the Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Bean Vodka, and a small bottle of the Rum Chata, so I could make my own drinks.  

While I was at the liquor store, I also walked over to the whiskey section and as I was browsing, I found the Pumpkin Spice whiskey sitting on the top shelf! We were told that this liquor store was one of the ones that still had it, but given that those numbers were accurate three weeks ago, I was skeptical that it would still be on the shelf. We really lucked out though! We ended up trying that one out too, and it was really good! I'm looking forward to Fall so I can enjoy some seasonal drinks with it.

So that was our trip to the distillery. If any of you are local or will be traveling through the area, I highly recommend that you check this place out. I doubt that you will be disappointed.

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