The Distillery came to our attention because of its reputation for Absinthe. These guys dragged me to the tour as I was saying, “How boring!” picturing it to be like a schmaltzy Anheuser-Busch tour. When we pulled up to the decommissioned military hangar in Alameda (Oakland, CA), I still wasn’t convinced that this non-descript industrial-looking exterior housed anything of interest. However, the view from the parking lot across the bay towards SF was magnificent.
When we got inside the building we were greeted by the outgoing Andie, the “Vodka Vixen,” who also happened to be our tour guide. After some quick banter with Andie, I realized that I was totally wrong about this place. It was funky and industrial with a great bar for tasting in the next room. If you have been to the quirky Bonny Doon winery in Santa Cruz then I would say this place is the Bonny Doon of liquor. Andie offered us the $10 tasting (12 liquors), or the $15 tasting (12 liquors + absinthe & a glass with a skull and bones sticker). We had two $15 tastings for the three of us and had a 1/2 hour to finish it all before the tour started.
Anne, our personal bartender, gave us recommendations on drinks to make with the liquors, but honestly, they are so flavorful that you don’t really even need to mix them with anything. Andie is a great actress and makes the tour really fun, as well as educational (if you don’t know much about the distilling process). It flew by pretty quickly considering it was about an hour long; only a couple of folks ducked out in the middle to start their tastings.
We noticed that after the tour some people had brought picnics and ate outside the hangar at two picnic tables that look out at the view.(GoogleMap)
Lesley’s Favorites: I liked all of them but especially these:
•Hangar One Kaffir Lime Vodka (Infused with Kaffir Lime leaves for a more well-rounded flavor)
•Qi Black Tea Liqueur, a lapsang souchong tea-infused vodka drink
Zach’s: They were all excellent, seriously. The absinthe was amazing but $70 a bottle. Our lovely bartender Anne recommended mixing the Qi Black Tea Liqueur with Dr. Pepper which I am anxiously awaiting to try for myself. The Chipotle Vodka (brought a bottle home) is great in a bloody mary or on its own. The Aqua Perfecta line of liqueurs were a little too sweet and fruity for my taste but everything else was absolutely excellent. I highly recommend the $15 full tasting.
John’s: Not to get redundant, but every drink was fantastic. Each taste is 1/2-2/3 oz., so one can easily get the full flavor of each spirit. My favorites were the St. George Single Malt Whiskey, which puts many scotches to shame (and it’s not even made in Scotland); and the Qi Black Tea Liquor, which tastes like a smokey blend of scotch and bourbon.