We love beer in Portland, but we love cocktails (and Instagramming them) maybe a little bit more. Beyond visiting a brewpub or our favorite cocktail bars, we often think very little about just where all of this free-flowing booze is produced. More often than not when we leave the city for the coast, the desert, or the mountains, we’re passing up the chance to see many of the state’s 61 distilleries -- and the opportunity to try the spirits right where they’re made. Here are some of the Oregon distillery tasting rooms you’ve been passing by at 65 miles per hour. Bribe your DD to stop; you gotta make up for lost time.
New Basin Distilling CompanyAddress and Info
When five whiskey fans decided their city needed a local whiskey to drink, they joined forces and started New Basin Distilling. While passing through small town Madras, stop off for tastings of the Strong American Light Whiskey, in addition to vodka and gin. And yes, more than five people live in Madras.
Bendistillery (Crater Lake Spirits)Address and Info
Crater Lake Spirits' core of gin, vodka, and whiskey are dialed in -- as well as its liqueurs and flavored spirits like hazelnut espresso and pepper vodkas. As one of the most award-winningest small batch distilleries, its expertise shows in the smoothness of the booze. You’ll see the main distillery as you enter Bend, but there’s also a tasting room downtown. Be sure to ask what you can try from its Reserve Series and Estate and Special Projects portfolio.
Oregon Spirit DistillersAddress and Info
Although it's been around since 2009, Oregon Spirit Distillers has been mastering its bourbon and wheat whiskey lately. Making whiskey, especially good whiskey takes time and patience, and Oregon Spirit Distillers has nailed it. Ask for sips of its memorable brown spirits: Ottis Webber Oregon Wheat Whiskey and the J. Becher American Rye Whiskey.
Cascade Street DistilleryAddress and Info
If you're in Bend for the weekend and you’re down for a short vacation from your vacation, head about 30 minutes out of Bend to Sisters, Oregon. Cascade Street Distillery is a rising star in Oregon gin production, producing one of the state’s most well-rounded and delicious small batch varieties -- its South Sister Gin is the best example of this thoughtful micro-production.
To the Central Coast (Newport)
Indio SpiritsAddress and Info
Outside of Portland on your way heading southwest to the coast, stop in Tigard for Indio Spirits (or alternatively, on your way back before returning to real life). With one of the most diverse portfolios in the state, ranging from the usual Oregon spirits like vodka, gin, whiskey, and rum, Indio stretches its boundaries with hop flavored liqueur, curacao, finger lime flavored rum, and barrel aged vodka.
Sinister Distilling CompanyAddress and Info
From 1-5, take exit 234B for OR-99E toward Albany. In less than two miles, you’ll arrive at Albany’s first brewstillery, Sinister Distilling Company. The brewing side of the company, Deluxe Brewing, produces a Pre-Prohibition pilsner, Amber Lager, Schwarzbier, and other seasonals like a Helles Bock and Dunkel. Sinister Distilling Company produces gin, whiskey, and grappa (one of the only places while road tripping out of Portland to try some grappa).
Vivacity SpiritsAddress and Info
Located in Corvallis, Vivacity Spirits is on your way to Newport. Sample vodka, two kinds of gin, and rum, as well as the must-try Turkish Coffee Liqueur. Its vodka production method is a bit different than most distilleries in the state -- distilled from organic corn, it's filtered 10 times over three different media (one commonly used filter is charcoal). Filtration affects taste, and you can tell on the first sip -- Vivacity’s vodka is smooth as they come.
Rogue House of SpiritsAddress and Info
When in Newport, an essential stop is at Rogue Spirits, one of the first distillery pubs in America. It began producing beer in 1988 with spirit production following in 2003. Sip your way through a tasting and afterward, order a cocktail like the Pink Ginger Sling made with Pink Spruce Gin, sweet vermouth, lemon juice, ginger syrup, and soda. Before leaving, ask for a tour of the distillery.
To Mt. Hood National Forest
Ye Ol’ Grog DistilleryAddress and Info
On your way to Mt. Hood National Forest, heading east on Interstate 84, at just about the point where you’ve seen your fair share of signs for Wal-Mart Supercenters, you’ll be near Fairview. The pirate-themed distillery Ye Ol’ Grog Distillery has a tasting room in Fairview, although it doesn't distill here (that happens in St. Helens, Ore.). Ye Ol’ Grog should be your stop if you love vodka or want to pick up a bottle of the stuff for vodka sodas to be made in your AirBnb “chalet.”
McMenamins EdgefieldAddress and Info
Definitely stop at McMenamins when headed to the Hood and weave your way (grab a map, let’s not go crazy here) through the estate to the Distillery Bar. You’ll know you’ve made when you see the miniature golf out front. Edgefield is an old county farm built in 1911, and since the distillery opened its doors in 1998, many of Oregon's booze makers have made pilgrimages here to refine their product. You can tour the deceivingly small distillery where it’s all made or sip full-sized cocktails, like the Imbrie Old Fashioned made with Frank High Proof Rum, Aztec Chocolate bitters, simple syrup, and Amarena cherry, at the adjoining Distillery Bar.
To the Columbia River Gorge/Hood River
Camp 1805Address and Info
Just like in Bend, you can pass up the breweries and head for the higher proof stuff at Camp 1805 in the somewhat newly developed area on the waterfront near Pfriem Family Brewers. The set-up here resembles a brewpub (you can order full-size cocktails and food). Claiming status as the first legal rum and whiskey distillery in Hood River, its production is moving in the right direction. For a “polarizing as hell” experience, try the Endurance White Whiskey.
Hood River DistillersAddress and Info
One of the oldest distilleries in Oregon at 82 years old is also a must-visit tasting room. Known for Pendleton Whiskey and Sinfire Cinnamon Whiskey, the importer and distillery has purchased other brands with international distribution through the years, including Portland-based Clear Creek Distillery. In the tasting room, you can try all of the spirits in its portfolio that have been produced all over the US.
To Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach DistilleryAddress and Info
Instead of heading North to Astoria, head West towards Cannon Beach, which adds about 45 minutes to the drive and a tasting to your trip. Once you're there, head straight to Cannon Beach Distillery. You’ll find rum, whiskey, gin, and Il Keyote, which is a one-of-kind agave spirit distilled like brandy. It’s not tequila because it’s not produced in Tequila, Jalisco, and thus cannot be, but it has all of the similarities we love about tequila with touches of brandy. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in the state, so don't miss the chance for a taste.
To the Northern Coast (Astoria)
Pilot House DistillingAddress and Info
Astoria’s distillery will be your one and only for spirits in this up-and-coming coastal town. Try the Thundermuck Coffee Liqueur and the absinthe while hanging out in this small town tasting room that's also pouring house-distilled vodka, gin, and whiskey.
Spiritopia Craft SpiritsAddress and Info
West Central Oregon has a lot going on in the way of artisan liqueurs, and depending on your palate preference, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from at Corvallis' Spiritopia, which produces ginger, apple, and pomegranate liqueurs perfect in cocktails. The company’s philosophy is centered around balance and these are just that.
Elixir Craft DistilleryAddress and Info
Elixir was founded by two Italian brothers with a mission to revive traditional Old World Italian spirits, and they have done an exceptional job in the distillery's seven years. The brothers produce Calisaya Liqueur, a Peruvian shrub brought to Rome by missionaries in 1632. Originally a medicinal liqueur because of its high quinine content, it was used to combat malaria. The Iris Liqueur, made from iris plant root, is a delicate, floral spirit originating in Florence.
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1. New Basin Distilling Company2063 NW Andrews Drive, Madras
2. Crater Lake Spirits19330 Pinehurst Rd, Tumalo
3. Oregon Spirit Distillers490 NE Butler Market Rd, Bend
4. Cascade Street Distillery, Sisters
5. Indio Spirits Bottle Shop & Tasting Room1111 SW Alder St, Portland
6. Sinister Distilling Co635 NE Water Ave, Albany
7. Vivacity Spirits720 NE Granger Ave, Corvallis
8. Rogue Ales Public House & Distillery1339 NW Flanders St, Portland
9. Ye Ol' Grog Distillery35853 Industrial Way, Saint Helens
10. Distillery Bar & Pub - McMenamins Edgefield2126 SW Halsey St, Troutdale
11. Camp 1805, Hood River
12. Hood River Distillers Tasting Room304 Oak St, Hood River
13. Cannon Beach Distillery255 N Hemlock St, Cannon Beach
14. Pilot House Distilling1270 Duane St, Astoria
15. Spiritopia Liqueurs720 Granger, Lewisburg
16. Elixir Craft Distillery1050 Bethel Dr, Eugene
When there's a will to drink, there's a way to distill. So learned five friends who taught themselves how to distill and navigated a treacherous permit process to finally open New Basin Distilling Company, the first in Oregon to grow the grain it distills (on 400 acres, mind you). What began as a gin project has since expanded to whiskey and vodka. The trifecta is the reward of their efforts: Strong Whiskey, Stagger Gin, and First Cut Vodka (which strangely read like the nightmare stages of a drunken night). Stop by the distillery for tastings and to pick up a crate of the wares.
Since 1996, Crater Lake Spirits has been distilling vodka and gin and clear as the water in Crater Lake. When you're headquartered a drive from such a geographic wonder, what else are you going to name your booze after? The small batch producer has evolved over the years beyond the basic, releasing vodkas infused with hazelnut-espresso, pepper and sweet ginger to satisfy those looking for kick in their sip. A 24-acre farm in Tumalo plays host to the production house, as well as tasting room where you can pick up bottles before or after a tour.
After a remodel and expansion, Oregon Spirit Distillers is producing whiskey, rum and vodka with renewed pep at the Bend headquarters, which you can tour upon visiting. A tasting room is open daily for sips that will inevitably lead to you leaving with one of their bottles, from the staple vodka that won Silver in the 2014 San Fransisco World Spirits Competition to the botanical Wild Card. Limited release batches are available with membership in the Distiller's Choice Club, featuring bottles you won't find in stores.
What'll it be: Bourbon, gin, or vodka? All three are distilled at Cascade Street Distillery, cascading from sample bottles at the onsite tasting room. In the modest space outfitted with rough-cut wooden barstools and a shuffleboard for gaming, you can have the stuff straight or mixed into mini-cocktails like a lemonade spiked with raspberry-infused vodka. Here, Broken Top bourbon is small-batch and right for slow sipping; South Sister gin is citrus-forward with notes of local sage and pine; and the North Sister Vodka is clean like the mountain waters used to make it. The Sisters distillery lives in a barn with snowy peak views, best taken in after taking in a few shots.
Indio Spirits Distillery doesn't just produce whiskey, vodka, gin and rum, they take care to bush boundaries beyond traditional categories with specialty spirits like Hopka: a clear liquor infused with hops usually used to make beer. Standards and specialties can be sampled inside of this bottle shop and tasting room location, an offshoot of the distillery on Durham Rd.
Part-microbrewery and part-gin distillery, Sinister Distilling Co doesn't choose sides between beer and liquor, but rather embraces both. Some say such an approach is sinister, but owners Eric and Jamie Howard seem to be doing just fine, their Howard's Hopped Up Gin winning a Silver Artisan Award in 2015. An onsite taproom, featuring ping-pong and televisions playing sports, is a close-to-the-source place to sip eight brews on tap, knock back some gin, and have a couple complimentary pretzels.
Armed with a fermentation science degree from Oregon State University, Caitlin Prueitt owns and operates this micro-distillery in the Willamette Valley. Vodka and gin take the top billing, but the wares veer into the specialty realm with a signature Turkish Coffee Liqueur, with notes of cardamom and cinnamon that work fittingly in an after-dinner cup of joe. If you go straight to the source at the distillery taproom on select weekend afternoons, you'll surely note how oak-y her vanilla-kissed rum is, aged in bourbon-barrels.
This brewery began in the late 80s, and now has expanded to multiple locations across the West Coast. This location features the brewery, spirits, and food that they source from their own farms. Check out American Amber or Oregon Golden -- those were their first two brews and go great with the killer fried cheese curds.
Once a dry shed for storing vegetables grown at the Edgefield estate during its days as a farm, the Edgefield Distillery at McMenamins now churns out specialty spirits like the rich, amber Hogshead Whiskey, aromatic Edgefield Brandy, Penney’s Gin, Longshot Brandy, and Pear Brandy. Peer through the distillery’s ornate etched glass as the copper stills do their mechanical dance, and then head to the adjacent Distillery Bar, where you’ll order cocktails like the London Meets Paris, with gin, Edgefield’s pear brandy, fresh lemon, mint, and basil. Fill up on bar snacks like a soft pretzel or barbecue chicken pizza with smoked mozzarella, bell pepper, red onion, fresh cilantro, and Hammerhead BBQ sauce, all as you cozy up next to one of the fireplaces.
Camp 1805 was named to honor legendary explorers Lewis and Clark, a mission the distillery embraces by pulling products from all over the Pacific Northwest. The craft distillery features a full bar, with spirits on offer like clear rum, clear whiskey, and vodka, the production of which you can witness from behind a glass wall in the tasting room. In addition to an extensive list of cocktails (all juices are fresh-squeezed and all syrups are made in-house), like the Pamplemousse with Aria gin, pamplemousse liqueur, lime, Campari, demerara, egg white and sparkling wine, Camp 1805 serves a food menu of small and large bites, like lemon rosemary hummus, with grilled roti bread, carrots, cucumbers, pickled onion, feta, Kalamata olives, and dolmas, and smoked brisket tacos, with ancho chili sauce and tomato and cabbage salsa on corn tortillas.
Hood River Distillers is the largest and oldest importer, producer, bottler, and marketer of spirits in the Pacific Northwest. At the tasting room at Hood River, you can sip on spirits as varied as Pendleton Whisky, Sinfire Cinnamon Whisky, Lucid Absinthe Superieure, Broker’s London Dry Gin, and Yazi Ginger Vodka, among many others in the Hood River portfolio in a space with amber backlighting and soaring ceilings.
Only a true distiller would name his or her still. At Cannon Beach Distillery, Bernie the custom made Vendome Copper Still single distills every drop of alcohol with the Cannon Beach name on it. Spirits here are fermented using raw ingredients, distilled, matured, bottled, and labeled in-house, and they are grouped into three different categories: The Rock Series, which consists of the Dorymen’s Silver Rum, Donlon Shanks Amber Rum, and Il Kêyóte Spirits distilled from agave, The Tidal Series, and The Carronade Collection, made up of spirits that are manufactured only once. At the distillery, a Shingle-style boozy cottage, you’ll be able to witness the distilling process and sample the spirits. While Cannon beach welcomes the spirits’ use in cocktails, note that it will not sell a spirit unless it is of high enough quality to enjoy on its own, so we recommend ordering it straight.
Pilot House Distilling in Astoria is a small craft distillery that features infused vodkas, bourbon barrel aged rum, whiskey, coffee liqueur, drinking vinegars, and two gins: Painted Lady and Bar Pilot. At the tasting room, distinct for its industrial, yet elegant, atmosphere with sand-colored wood and black granite accents, be sure to order a tasting tray as well as a Bloody Mary with Pilot House’s home-made Bloody Knuckle Mix.
Spiritopia’s philosophy is centered on the concept of balance among the “trinity” of essence, spirit, and sweetness in its ginger, apple, and pomegranate liqueurs. Head to the Corvallis tasting room for a sip of ginger liqueur, made with organic Peruvian ginger roots and raw, organic cane sugar, as well as other “secret” ingredients. Call the distillery ahead of time to plan your tour of the facilities; if you’re lucky, you might even meet founder Chris Beatty, the self-proclaimed Spirit Chemist.
The way Eugene’s Elixir Craft Distillery’s founders celebrate the McKenzie River, you’d think they’ve found the Fountain of Youth. And with the liquid gold spirits their distillery churns out using pure McKenzie River water, we’re pretty certain they have too. The pristine water joins organic grain neutral spirit that they filter several times through activated charcoal, crushed lava rock, and specialized copper tubing to remove any remaining impurities. This intricate process strips grain neutral spirit of its “fire,” while maintaining its natural “warmth,” making for excellent liqueurs like the Calisaya, named for its main ingredient, a Peruvian shrub brought to Rome by missionaries in 1632, and the Iris, made with genuine iris root. Enjoy each of these following a tour of the distillery.