Distilling has always been a bit of a mystery to me, even with my homebrewing background. I had a basic idea of how the process starts, because it is so similar to homebrewing. However, the actual distilling process was always a mystery to me - spirits get made from condensation? What kind of witchcraft is this?
I recently had the opportunity to take one of the fully-guided owner tours that Doc Porter's offers most Saturdays by reservation. The 45 minute tours include a tour of the facility, an overview of Doc Porter's grain-to-glass process, and a tasting of all three of their liquors: vodka, gin, and bourbon.
Our tour began with Andrew, one half of the husband-wife team who own Doc Porter's, explaining the significance of the framed pictures that hang on the wall in their tap room.
After giving a brief history of his family and setting the stage for how Doc Porter's came to be, we went back into the production area of the facility, where Andrew explained how the distilling process works.
As I mentioned, some of the process was already familiar to me, so a lot of the equipment was as well. This thing, however, I had never seen before and found fascinating:
This valve-tastic piece of equipment is called a column still and it's where the magic happens. "Magic" being the distilling of the wash into what will be become a very tasty spirit. You can read more about how the distilling process works here.
After the tour concluded, we got to sample each of Doc Porter's craft liquors. We started with the vodka, which was so smooth that I enjoyed sipping it. Craft vodka is not made for shots, people. Technically, yes, you can shoot it, but when it's this good, why would you? Next we sampled the gin.
The gin. Oh, the gin.
It's fantastic. Like, really, really fantastic. So fantastic I gulped it down without taking a picture of it. I'm a gin fan, so I was already excited to try it. The botanical blend Doc Porter's uses is unique and fresh. The first aroma and flavor I noticed was lemony and citrusy. Then I picked up the juniper and cucumber flavors. Man alive, this is good gin. It reminded me somewhat of vermouth and its flavor immediately got me thinking about what types of cocktails I could make with it. More than likely, though, I'll drink this on its own, although I am partial to a well-made gin rickey. My husband, who is not a gin fan, really enjoyed it as well.
Last, we sampled the bourbon. As I've mentioned before, I don't know a lot about liquor, which obvs includes whiskey and bourbon. I've always wanted to be one of those people who have a preference and can tell you why. Maybe one day I will be. After sampling Doc Porter's bourbon, I think I will have to be. The cherry and caramel notes are delicious and, like the vodka, deceivingly smooth. We ended up leaving with a bottle of each.
The most exciting part of the day for me was Andrew telling the tour group that Doc Porter's will be producing an amaro liqueur. If you've read the blog even somewhat frequently and/or follow me on social media, you know how much I love Fernet Branca, which is a classic example of amaro.
I. CANNOT. WAIT. FOR. THIS. TO. HAPPEN.
No matter what your experience with spirits is, I highly recommend reserving a spot for one of the Doc Porter's tours. I left knowing a lot more about the distilling process and wanting to learn more. Also, craft amaro.