My visit to St. George Spirits Distillery {and some info on their spirits}

After visiting Distillery No 209 in San Francisco, our next adventure was traveling to Alameda for the Advanced Training Tour at St. George Spirits distillery. Before I walked in the door, I was already in love with their spirits. But after I left? Well, my heart grew two sizes for them, as did my respect for their craft.

st george spirits

A {very} brief history of St. George Spirits

St. George Spirits was founded in 1982 by Jörg Rupf, a German immigrant who fell in love with the Bay Area. The distillery first produced pear eau de vie (brandy), and over the years has grown to include many more spirits in their lineup. In 1996, Lance Winters joined the team and in 2010 was passed the torch of Master Distiller and sole proprietor of St. George Spirits. Dave Smith became part of the distilling team in 2005 and has the completely un-awful job of overseeing their whiskey program. St. George Spirits was the first American craft distillery and to this day, continues to be a pioneer in distillation. Of course there is a lot more to their story, but I wanted to keep this section brief.

st george spirits pot stills

But enough about the history, let’s talk about the booze…

 The spirits produced at St. George Spirits Distillery

They are making everything from absinthe to American single malt whiskey at St. George Spirits distillery. Since it would be too much to write about all of them in detail, I’ll give some highlights here. If you’d like to know more about what they produce, definitely head over to the spirits section of their website.

st george spirits pot stills

As I mentioned before, pear eau de vie was the first spirit to be distilled at St. George. They still produce this pear brandy along with a raspberry brandy and a basil eau de vie. The brandy is distilled from the entire fruit and no sugar or artificial ingredients are added. I have all three and each one tastes just like the fruit (or herb) on the bottle.

st george spirits distillery stills

Hangar One Vodka, no longer owned by St. George Spirits, is still produced in their distillery. It’s a blend of eau de vie made from grapes along with a spirit made from wheat. The Hangar One collection includes straight vodka, Buddha’s hand citron, kaffir lime and mandarin blossom.

hangar one vodkas

Now let’s talk about the gin, which happens to be my starting point with St. George Spirits. They have 4 different gins available: Botanivore, Terroir, Dry Rye and Dry Rye Reposado. I have all four of them and can say with absolute certainty that you should too.

st george spirits gins

The Botanivore Gin includes 19 different botanicals that all work fabulously together. Some of the more interesting botanicals in this collection include dill seed, fennel seed, ginger and citra hops. To start with, try Botanivore in a martini or a gin and tonic.

The best way to describe Terroir Gin is a walk in the woods through a bottle. 12 botanicals, including Douglas fir, coastal sage and California bay laurel. To start with, try the Terroir in a Tom Collins with Meyer lemon juice and a sprig of thyme for garnish.

The gin that first caught my attention (and my heart) was the Dry Rye Gin. Unaged rye is the base of this gin, and only 6 botanicals were included in the mix. It’s heavier on the juniper than the other two gins, but not so much that you are turned off. It’s warm and spicy and makes you feel good all over. To start with, try the Dry Rye Gin in a Negroni or a Manhattan.

Barrel age the Dry Rye Gin in French and American oak casks and you have the Dry Rye Reposado Gin. It’s deeper, darker and even more seductive than the Dry Rye. It’s also harder to find. To start with, try the Dry Rye Reposado Gin in a Preakness Cocktail.

While at St. George Spirits distillery, I was fortunate enough to be granted a little peak behind the scenes where Lance does all of his work. I was also able to taste a small sample of their Single Malt Whiskey. Let’s just say that I now own two bottles of the somewhat hard to find Lot 13 Single Malt Whiskey. And no, I won’t share.

st george spirits single malt whiskey

The mash bill for the Single Malt includes roasted and unroasted barley that is distilled and aged in used bourbon casks, French oak, port barrels, and sherry barrels to create this unique American whiskey. Try it neat or with a single large ice cube. You’ll be hooked.

st george spirits whiskey

I realize this is starting to get a little long-winded now, but I have one more spirit I absolutely have to tell you about from St. George Spirits… The California Rum Agricole. Made from fresh sugarcane, it is earthy in a sexy way and guaranteed to leave you wanting more. To start with, try the Rum Agricole in a Hemingway Daiquiri or a mojito. Or come back here in a few days where I’ll be sharing a cocktail with this rum I’m calling Gone in 2 Seconds.

wormwood for absinthe

The other spirits St. George Spirits produces include an absinthe, various fruit liqueurs and a bourbon they created from a blend of Kentucky bourbons. All of these are worth trying if you get the chance.

st george spirits bourbon

Wrapping it up

The tour of St. George Spirits distillery was such a great experience. Our tour guide, Lauren, was very knowledgable about the spirits and the production process, as well as full of excitement. You can tell that the people who work here are passionate about the product they produce and it shows in the distillery and in their spirits. Just look at this collection of jugs in the workshop.

st george spirits distillery tour

I highly recommend taking a visit to St. George Spirits distillery if you ever get the chance. Oh, and any time you see a bottle of St. George Spirits on the shelf, buy it (especially if it’s the rum, single malt whiskey or the dry rye reposado gin). You will not be disappointed. And if for some reason you are, send the bottle to me. I’ll enjoy it on your behalf.

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Jessica Torres is the chief cocktail creator here at One Martini. Outside of the internet, she works at DEATH & TAXES (a bar) and midtown eats (a restaurant) in Reno, Nevada. When not working, Jessica can be found working out, spending time with her family or attempting to nap. Subscribe to our newsletter to get all of the latest cocktail creations delivered directly to your inbox.
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