Portland is undoubtedly one of the beer and coffee capitals of the U.S., dare I say, the world. But I would be remiss if I didn’t also include her wonderful distilleries. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that there is a vibrant food scene – along with a fine dish must come the perfect spirit with which to wash it down, right?
Or maybe it’s because the fertile farmland all around Oregon and Washington is ripe with fruit, nut and grain fields – the perfect ingredients for that special brandy, whiskey or vodka. Whatever the reason, if you appreciate your hard alcohol, it’s worth an afternoon to tour some of Portland’s distilleries. Here is a comprehensive list of most of the finer ones in town.
Whiskey, vodka, rum, and gin are made here, using fresh Bull Run water from the fertile Willamette Valley. Try the Aria Gin; a dry gin made in the British tradition, with the freshest nuts and grains. Ariagin.com
These guys are known for their phenomenal beer but don’t pass up the opportunity to sample their apple brandy, hazelnut-spiced aged rum, and liquors distilled with herbs and spices
Their brandy is made from pears picked fresh from the Hood River Valley, east of Portland. They also make a lovely single-malt whiskey with barley from Scotland.
They have curacao make from Barbados rum and infused with blood oranges. Try their marionberry vodka. Their barrel room rum is a lovely mixture of dry and sweet.
I love the McMenamins franchise, and along with their award-winning rotation of beers, they also do whiskey. I recommend the Hogshead whiskey. Their distillery on the east edge of town was born out of a poor house, where the entire property was transformed into a sprawling estate with a hotel, a wine cellar, a golf course, and a music venue.
Using Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat for their unfiltered vodkas sets this distillery apart from the rest. Called Dystopia Vodka, the result is creamy and rich.
For a mere 20 bucks you can buy yourself a distillery passport and hit Portland’s Distillery Row. The eight distilleries listed below are all close to each other so you can park your car and visit one or all of them (just remember to pace yourself and definitely have a designated driver!) There is no expiration date on the passport and you can hit any of the distilleries at your leisure. They are generally open for tastings Wednesday through the weekend, but be sure to check with each website for their days and hours of availability. Groups of six or more should call ahead. Below are the distilleries that take part in the program.
They specialize in bourbon whiskey, including fruit-infused variations such as marionberry and cherry. But they also make the famous Portland Potato Vodka, along with spiced rums.
Vodka with a hint of coconut, Irish-style whiskey, and the popular Krogstad Festlig Aquivit are par for the course here. They also make a fine gin.
Using only juniper to conjure up complex flavors in their gin, this distillery set itself apart from House Spirits’ gin just down the street.
This mom-and-pop distillery shows its love by offering up a smooth vodka and a flowery gin. They will soon expand their offerings to include whiskey and flavored rum.
Images conjuring up the old country is in their name…brandy and whiskey’s, that’s their game. Using local grains and fruits, their pear brandy and apricot liquor will leave you feelin’ fine.
These guys specialize in liquors distilled from tea and sugar. YUM
The owners have a rich history, as refugees from Vietnam, and their rice-based spirits have been passed down for many generations.
The purest of the pure vodka…five-times distilled, infused with different fruits.