Since we totally got away with stealing Austin's weird city slogan, we decided to jack something else: their idea for a local booze Battle Royale, in which we round up eight locally made liquors (from the mainstay Bull Run Distilling Company and various other spirits slingers), take itty bitty* sips of 'em (*lie), then write down super-scientific and coherent tasting notes, and see if we can pick the best vodka, gin, rum, and whiskey made right here in the PDX.
Bull Run Distillery’s Aria
Initial Impression: Aria is one letter away from the only fond memory I have of MTV.
Flavor Notes: Wonderful juniper; dry, tastes British.
Bummer: This has to go up against Aviation so early in the bracket.
After-thoughts: I could really go for a gin and tonic.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 Darias
House Spirits Distillery’s Aviation American Gin
Initial Impression: Honestly, the old bottle was better.
Flavor Notes: Mellow but present juniper melds nicely with cardamom and anise. Delicate touch of lavender.
Bummer: They changed the bottle?
After-thoughts: Lives up to its accolades. The craft gin that'll get you into craft gin.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Aeronautic Examples
FINAL VERDICT: Aviation never had anything to worry about. It’s a badass, and totally unique, gin.
Bull Run Distillery’s Temperance Trader
Initial Impression: Cool logo, but not a fan of calling your hooch bourbon unless you’re at least near the South.
Flavor Notes: Hot and spicy. Not not picking up those vanilla notes popular in bourbon.
Bummer: No depth.
After-thoughts: Wanna look like a cowboy and shoot throat-burning whiskey? This is the guy for you. (Although, somebody slipped an ice cube in theirs and it totally opened up.)
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 Cowboys
4 Spirits Bourbon Whiskey
Initial Impression: Gosh, everyone is calling their whiskey bourbon these days.
Flavor Notes: Maybe my tongue is still numb from the Temperance, but this hardly tastes like alcohol. Almost too sweet, though not anything near Maker’s Mark.
Bummer: It’s gone?
After-thoughts: This bottle's getting finished tonight!
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 Certain Hangovers
FINAL VERDICT: 4 Spirits wins the neat taste test hands down, but the Temperance would probably hold its own in cocktails.
4 Spirits WebFoot Vodka
Initial Impression: Lovin’ the marketing scheme. Totally chose the Ducks, eff the Beavers.
Flavor Notes: It tastes like vodka.
Bummer: It tastes like vodka.
After-thoughts: Vodka tastes best when it doesn’t.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 Civil Wars
Bull Run Distillery’s Medoyeff
Initial Impression: Doesn’t look like Portland, or Oregon, at all. Very Eastern European.
Flavor Notes: Velvety texture with a bit of a kick at the end.
Bummer: Should’ve added olive.
After-thoughts: Surprisingly tasty.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 Russians
FINAL VERDICT: To the American palette, vodka seems to taste best the less it tastes, but the spicy finish of the Medoyeff is actually quite pleasant.
Bull Run Distillery’s Pacific Rum
Initial Impression: Probably got a lot of exposure over the summer.
Flavor Notes: Strangely fruity, very sweet. A bit of complexity on the finish.
Bummer: Strong, sweet flavors cloud complexity.
After-thoughts: Once again, perhaps best in a cocktail.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Trips to Pamplona
Initial Impression: There's something different about this one... it's actually made/ aged in Trinidad.
Flavor Notes: Very traditional. Where’s the Coca-Cola?
Bummer: It's actually made/ aged in Trinidad?
After-thoughts: I haven’t had a rum and coke in a really long time.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 Sirens
FINAL VERDICT: They're drastically different, but the brown liquor aged in whiskey barrels on the Willamette wins.