Last night I had the honor of attending Meet the Distillers night at Urge Gastro Pub and Whiskey Bank in Oceanside, CA. It was a really intimate event inside of their private speakeasy room with maybe about 15 attendees. I arrived early so I can take pictures (I'm far from a photographer) and to meet Laura to find out how the event would take place. Laura is the bar manager for Urge, she's also the brand ambassador for Whistle Pig, who definitely has a passion for her craft. She put together some gorgeous cocktails for us.
These types of events are great to be able to speak directly to the head distillers, owners and employees that are responsible for the spirits we drink. It allows you to ask questions, find out their unique stories and see the fire in their eyes as they explain their "why". The 3 distilleries represented last night was Henebery Celebrated Whiskey out of Vista, CA and Pier View Gin and Misadventure & company Vodka both out of San Marcos, CA.
Before the presentations officially kicked off, I had the pleasure to speak with each of the owners/distillers which was Whit from Misadventure and Jordan from Pier View. I also spoke with Walter (brand ambassador) and Jesse (Owner/Head Distiller) of Henebery Whiskey. Jesse also introduced me to Sean who owns Shadow Ridge Spirits in Oceanside who invited me to tour his distillery. I'll keep you posted on when that happens. :)
Everyone there truly enjoys their craft, and it's great to see how each of the companies play off each other and support one another. Small businesses that understand the importance of having a support system and are wiling to work together, are the ones that usually survive the war of business ownership.
The presentations started off with Jesse from Henebery talking about the history of his company. (Lots of cool details that I'll save for when we interview him next week) This is a family owned and operated company. The Henebery brand dates back to 1851 under Mathew Henebery, who is the great, great grandfather of Jesse's wife. They brought the new Henebery to life about 5 years ago. They do every part of the distilling in house and bottle at 90 proof. Jesse was explaining the importance of temperatures with distilling as well. Walter came by and poured us all a healthy pour of the whiskey neat. The whiskey is 95% Rye/5% Barley. Upon nosing you get vanilla right away, maybe some hints of chocolate as well. On the palate you definitely get that vanilla and a soft mouthfeel. Surprisingly, no bitterness or burn like I'd expect from a high rye. This is a damn good tasting whiskey neat! Laura brought out the featured cocktail they call The Balboa.
The Balboa recipe:
2 oz Henebery Whiskey
.75 oz Lemon Juice
.75 oz Honey Syrup (3:1 honey to water)
3 dashes of R&D Sasparilla Bitters
Shakes with ice. Serve over rocks in tumbler glass. Garnish with Lemon Peel
Personally, I'm not a fan of cocktails but this one was my favorite although I would always drink Henebery neat.
Some shared plates came out: Sliders and Cheese Curds
Next up was Jordan from Pier View Gin. He poured us a sample of the gin neat. He prides himself on saying they're changing people perception of gin needing to be a mixer, and I'ds say he's right. This is actually a fine sipping spirit neat! Right away you get citrus up front. Cool bit of information is they try to locally source all their ingredients when possible and all of the lemons used for the spirit come from farms right here in Fallbrook, CA! Some bragging rights they earned this year is that they won Gold at the Distilled Competition. They use a mash bill made of 100% corn. Laura brought out the featured cocktail which was called Satin Sheets. The ingredients were Pier View Gin, St. Germaine, Peach Liquor, Lemon Juice, simple syrup and topped with soda water.
Another shared plate came out on a skillet, my apologies for not getting the info on that one.
Whit came up to tell us about Misadventure and Company Vodka. Their story is nothing short of amazing and I feel the world should already know what Misadventure is doing. They are going to be starting an entire movement when more people learn what they have perfected. Misadventure is the world's first vodka to be made from excess baked goods. Yes, you read that correctly, their mashbill consists of excess baked goods! No we're not talking about moldy, rotten food...but even if it were the distillation process would kill any mold and fungi...we're talking about foods that may be getting close to expiration dates, or food donated to food banks that is too much for them to sell so it would go bad and end up in a landfill. In their first year alone, they prevented over 78,000 lbs of baked goods from entering landfills! Not only do they have a small footprint, they have a negative footprint! So when you drink and support Misadventure you are actually helping the environment and you are supporting a movement. Not to mention, you are supporting a local small business to help them keep this movement alive. Now...how does it taste? Well it's actually good enough for a non-vodka drinker like myself to drink it neat! So not only are you going to support a great cause, but you're going to get a quality product. The featured cocktail Laura brought out for us was San Luis Rey. Ingredients were Misadventure Vodka, Dubonnet, Tonic and a sprig of mint in a tumbler glass. It was a really clean and refreshing drink. If I can give any suggestion to Whit: You need to make the story, the "why", and the landfill/foodwaste facts up front and center in promotional materials and social media. There is a movement opportunity. I stopped typing just to (passionately) explain your story to my wife...I'm not even a vodka drinker but your story has me hyped to tell everyone about it and want to give it a home on my shelf as my only vodka in the house!
I'm so grateful for this event which allowed me to learn about some local companies that deserve our support for what they're bringing out with their small batch spirits. Thank you to Urge for giving these distillers the platform to teach us, I truly hope there are more events like this planned for the future. Everyone needs to check out all the businesses involved, from Urge and their amazing food and whiskey selection, to the distilleries themselves. North County San Diego is putting out some amazing spirits and I'm excited for the future of the craft.
Thank you Laura, Urge, Jesse, Whit and Jordan for sharing your time and expertise with us.
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As a fan of scotch and other whiskeys I was tired of looking up reviews for new whiskeys that just oozed of snobbery. I wanted to create an outlet for average Joe's who don't have a sommelier palate. Born and raised in Long Island, New York, I moved to San Diego, California in 2010 with my wife. I'm also a fan of MMA, pro-wrestling, comic books, video games and strongman. All subjects are topic for discussion on the podcast.
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