CRAFT /kraft/ noun
1: An activity involving skill in making things by hand.
Our fathers, their fathers and their fathers fathers honed their crafts over the years, whether it was carpentry, iron work, motorcycles or distilling, they eventually became masters of their passions. In the past 10 years there’s been a resurgence in craft products, especially brewing and distilling, and more recently a spike in the craft spirits industry. Many breweries are now expanding to include distillation at their facilities to add a layer of experimentation to their operations. With that said there are a number of standout distillers in the industry, one of those standouts is St.George Spirits in Alameda, CA.
St.George Spirits sits on a 65,000 square feet (6,000 m2) airplane hangar on the former Alameda naval air station. It’s quite the experience, navigating through the maze of hangars of the defunct base and arriving at the footsteps of the distillery that face the San Francisco Skyline. There’s history there and you can feel it. The business was started in 1982 by Jörg Rupf producing Eau de Vie, now the distillery boasts a much larger catalog consisting of gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, brandy, liqueur, and absinthe.
In 2007, St.George spirits became the first US distillery to produce absinthe since the ban in 1912. The spirit won’t make you crazy as some might imagine, but you’ll certainly want to get your hands on a bottle to add to your personal collection, it’s that good. All the spirits are produced in beautiful copper pot stills located on-site which can be viewed on a distillery tour and tasting. We took the tour and tasting with our guide Sam who gave us the rundown on the distillery and all the great facts about its history and spirits. If you like industrial spaces as much as we do, you’ll love the tour, especially when you see those copper pot stills gleaming in all their glory alongside barrels of the carefully crafted aging spirits.
One of the best parts about being present at the distillery is the tasting. If you’ve never tried any of the spirits produced by the distillery, we strongly recommend you do, it will change the way you look at alcohol as a whole, especially Gin. The attention to detail found in the flavor profiles contained in the spirits shines through so vividly. The tasting portion of the tour is the perfect opportunity to try a variety of the spirits produced by the distillery (A complete tasting list can be found here) and learn about the nuances in each spirit as well as some cool details about their bottles. One of the facts revealed during our tasting was of the NOLA Coffee Liqueur. The label has a hand-drawn scene as you’ll notice below in the photograph. Take a close look and you’ll notice the words “The dude abides” printed on the façade of the building. This is a tribute to The Dude, of The Big Lebowski, who cherished his White Russian cocktails. Try a white Russian with the NOLA Coffee Liqueur and you may never go back to the other stuff, we bet even The Dude would’ve switched over. We all know that attention to detail is important, it builds trust with your customer and keeps them coming back. St.George Spirits has captured our attention, and if you haven’t tried them already, when you do, we bet they’ll capture yours.