Florida’s nascent craft-distillery trail stretches from the Panhandle to Key West
“For those with a taste for tours with more pizazz — and a broader menu — there’s St. Augustine Distillery, located in its namesake city in the state’s northeast corner.
A family road trip to the city one weekend doubles as a chance to visit the distillery. In a place saturated with history, it seems only fitting that it’s housed in a century-old former power plant and ice factory.
As cheerful as our afternoon tour group is when we arrive, by the time we’ve made our way through a breezy but informative talk and short video presentation and landed in the tasting room for a trio of sample-size cocktails, we’re downright chummy.
Although tours may be geared toward tourists, staff members are happy to nerd out with more hardcore enthusiasts. When co-founder and chief executive Philip McDaniel happens by the gift shop, I pester him about his bourbons and gins, my preferred poisons, in what soon turns into an impromptu second tasting.
Florida, I learn, can be a source of inspiration and frustration for distillers. As with most better producers in the state, St. Augustine favors local ingredients, and that explains the bright notes of citrus in its wonderful New World Gin.
“We’re letting Florida make the spirits it wants to make,” McDaniel says.
With spirits such as bourbon, that can mean fresh challenges. The cavelike room where St. Augustine ages its 2,000-odd bourbon casks may look like anywhere else, but Florida’s year-round heat and humidity accelerate the aging process.
“We joke that our bourbon ages in dog years,” McDaniel says.
Tinkering with different types of barrels and grain recipes seems to have fixed any ill-effects of superannuation. The result is a distinctly rich and spicy Florida Double Cask Bourbon.”
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By. Abercrombie, Paul. “Florida’s nascent craft-distillery trail stretches from the Panhandle to Key West.” TheWashingtonPost.com. June 29th, 2017.
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