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If you’re a fan of wine tasting and touring, but are in the mood to mix things up, consider a jaunt to Alameda—home of St. George Spirits. This fascinating (and friendly) craft distillery creates an exciting lineup of artisanal spirits, including eau de vie, bourbon, gin, vodka and absinthe.
Located in an old hangar at Alameda’s decommissioned naval base, St. George Spirits offers a spacious (and popular) tasting room located directly adjacent to its enormous production facility. Tastings are designed to help visitors learn how to approach and appreciate spirits, and include a selection of six of the company’s handcrafted products.
All spirits are made on site, and each is wonderfully distinctive—don’t miss the St. George Terroir Gin, distilled with “evocative botanicals” such as Douglas fir, California bay laurel and coastal sage. “It tastes like you’re running naked through the forest,” described the staff member who poured us our sample—and she was perfectly right. I was enthralled with the fragrant St. George Pear Brandy, made from dry-farmed, organic Bartlett pears—it takes about 30 pounds of fruit to produce one bottle. And the Absinthe Verte—the first legal American-produced absinthe released after the U.S. ban was lifted in 2007—is a knockout.
Visitors can choose a “Basic Training” tasting at $15 per person; or the “Advanced Training” at $20 per person, which includes an entertaining, very educational distillery tour. Guides discuss St. George’s production process and equipment, and also engage in “a little absinthe myth-busting” and explain why there is a shark in the hangar (there really is a shark in the hangar).
Note: All tours and tastings are for guests who are 21 and older, and valid ID is required. For more information about visiting St. George Spirits, visit the company’s website.