Contributor: Diana Banning is the City Archivist for the City of Portland and is a member of the host committee.
Portland may be well-known for its love of beer craft, but you’d be missing out if your quaffing stopped there. According to the American Distilling Institute, Portland ranks #2 in the Craft Spirits Tourism category for large metro areas (http://distilling.com/resources/craft-spirits-tourism-index/), proving once again that Portland loves the DIY sensibility.
Craft distilleries offer the opportunity to go to the source to sample the spirits, much like visiting a winery’s tasting room. There are many tasting rooms throughout the city, but as luck would have it, Distillery Row is within close reach of the Oregon Convention Center!
Distillery Row is a grouping of eight distilleries within the SE Industrial district of Portland and are within close proximity to each other. Each distillery has tasting room hours, and many of them offer tours of the distilleries in addition to sampling their spirits. To find out more about the individual distilleries, visit the Distillery Row website (http://www.distilleryrowpdx.com/).
To get there, hop the streetcar A Loop or S Line headed south on NE MLK and you are just a few stops and a few blocks from some of the best distilleries in Oregon. If you want to tour the Row in style, PDX Pedicab offers a Portland Distillery Tour (http://pdxpedicab.com/home/portfolio/portland-distillery-tour/).
If you are short on time and can’t visit all of the tasting rooms, here are some that I’d recommend:
New Deal Distillery
900 SE Salmon Street (at SE 9th)
If I had to choose one local distiller to visit, New Deal would be it. They have vodka, gin, rum, and whiskey. Oh, and did I mention their Ginger Liqueur? If you really want an excellent combination of local spirits, visit the McMenamins’s Kennedy School and buy a bottle of their Monkey Puzzle whiskey to combine with the New Deal Ginger Liqueur. Nectar of the Gods.
Wild Roots Spirits
135 NE 6th Ave
If I was stranded on a desert island, Wild Roots would be my must-have Portland spirit. I mean, who wouldn’t want to surround themselves with infused vodka? Every bottle of the vodka contains one pound of locally sourced berries. Clean, crisp flavors that are strong and delectable enough to stand alone. Also delightful in a cocktail.
House Spirits Distillery
65 SE Washington Street
One word: Aquavit. They have other tasty offerings as well. You can visit their tasting room in SE or you can stop by their kiosk at the Portland airport for a chance to sip and buy a last-minute gift to take home.