Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Something Awesome Is Happening in Oregon

Unless you are in or a frequent visitor to the Pacific Northwest, you’ve probably never heard of McMenamin’s, and certainly not their Edgefield Distillery. Yet it is quite possible that Edgefield has made some of the best whiskey of the young craft distillery era.

A few years back, a four-year-old Edgefield rye won gold at the annual American Distilling Institute (ADI) competition. According to the distiller who accepted the award, Booker Noe (Jim Beam’s grandson, himself a legendary whiskey-maker) helped them with the recipe. It was superb. Asked if, when, and how it would be sold, they answered, “It won’t be. We kind of drank it all.”

Brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin started with a pub back in 1974. Today, McMenamins is a chain of resort hotels, restaurants, bars, music venues, golf courses, movie theaters, and probably a few other endeavors. They brew beer, distill spirits, and vint wine. They grow a lot of the food they serve in their restaurants and grow the grapes from which their wines are made. They’re way into preventing waste and promoting energy savings and efficiency.

The distillery was established in 1998. It is part of Edgefield, a 100-year-old historic McMenamin's resort hotel, located about 20 miles outside of Portland.

Last month, at their annual St. Patrick’s Day blowout, they released a whiskey called Devil’s Bit, made from malted wheat and barley, and aged for twelve years. It is heart-breakingly good, clearly recognizable as malt whiskey, yet different from anything you’ve ever tasted before. The nose alone is a revelation. They could sell it by the sniff.

If you want to become a distiller, and make great whiskey, get thee to Troutdale, Oregon. If you just want to taste what the craft distillery movement can become, same advice.


Florin said...

These guys are so cool that their distilling is practically a hobby. You can only buy their distillates at the Edgefield distillery, or by the glass in their pubs and restaurants. The Devils' Bit is an annual St Patrick's release, and if I lived in Portland I'd be first in line to get one on that day - every year! They distill a few other things, including a cognac-like brandy. Their pear brandy, however, is absolutely stunning!

tanstaafl2 said...

Sounds interesting. But not only is it a St. Patrick's Day release, apparently it is routinely sold out the same day. So it doesn't sound like a lot of people are going to get to try this one!

The Bourbon Intelligencer said...

Totally agree. McMenamin's makes some great whiskey. Real care and intentionality goes into what they make. Still have three bottles of the 2012 Devil's bit, saved for a special occasion. Now only if their beer and wine was as good! Had a chance to see them producing their new make rum last time I was their - definitely excited for that in a few years.