The birthplace of this movement lies in a small neighborhood of warehouses and vacant industrial buildings in SE Portland, known as the Lower East-side Industrial District, or Brooklyn neighborhood, where independent distilleries began sprouting up about two years ago. They make everything from vodkas and gins, rums and whiskeys, to more specialized spirits such as absinthe, aquavit, and flavored liqueurs.
The five distilleries in Portland at the forefront of the movement are Eastside Distilling, House Spirits, New Deal Distillery, Stone Barn Brandyworks and Vinn Distillery. Eastside Distilling makes one of the finest bourbons this side of the Mississippi, a personal favorite, aptly named Burnside Bourbon. They are also famous for their Portland Potato Vodka, a premium vodka four-times distilled. For small batch liquor with an Asian twist, try Vinn Distillery and their rice based spirits. For something more traditional, try any of the gins or brandies from New Deal, Stone Barn, or House Spirits.
Portlanders are blessed with these pioneering distillers that are putting the city and state into the national spotlight, just as Oregon winemakers did for the Willamette Valley wine region in the late 70’s, and the breweries of the 80’s put Portland at the pinnacle of the craft brewing movement. No longer must we turn to the handful of multi-national giants that formerly dominated the liquor industry for premium spirits. We now have truly local, handcrafted, small-batch alternatives. Visit Portland’s Distillery Row, take a tasting tour of the distilleries and experience the amazing variety and distinctive quality that only locally distilled spirits can offer. Just be sure to arrange a ride with the local pedi-cab provider, also offering custom distillery tours.
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