Page 1



Overview of 15+ SD Distilleries


with Bruce Glassman San Diego Winery Guide



SAN• Volume DIEGO1BEVERAGE SD Beverage Times Issue 2



SD Beverage Times • Volume 1 Issue 2

Hello! Welcome back for the second issue of San Diego Beverage Times. This edition is booze-fueled with an overview of San Diego’s distilleries, tips on drinking whiskey from local experts, and a short interview with the publisher of a county winery guide. In the next issue we’ll feature a larger variety of content covering multiple industries. We’re working on getting our website up and running as well. For info on advertising specs or how to get featured in a story, e-mail sdbevtimes@gmail.com Stay tuned, we’re just getting started!



SD Distilleries Map 12 Q&A w/ Bruce Glassman 14-15 How to Drink Whiskey 16-18

CORE TEAM Editor Ryan Lamb Publisher Mike Shess Media Advisor Tom Shess Project Manager Dominic Aljundi Art Director Kristin Hardy Contributors Ian Cheesman Kristina Yamamoto Sheldon M. Kaplan

1. Aztec Brewing Company 2330 La Mirada Dr. Suite 300 aztecbrewery.com 2. Backstreet Brewery 15 Main St #100 backstreetbrew.com 3. Barrel Harbor Brewing 2575 Pioneer Ave #104 barrelharborbrewing.com 4. Bear Roots Brewing Co. 1213 S Santa Fe Ave bearrootsbrewing.com 5. Belching Beaver Brewery 980 Park Center Drive, Suite A belchingbeaver.com 5a. Belching Beaver Tavern & Grill 302 East Broadway belchingbeaver.com 6. Booze Brothers Brewing Co. 2545 Progress St. Suite D boozebros.com 7. Ebullition Brew Works 2449 Cades Way Suite D MING CO ! ebullitionbrew.com SOON 8. Full Body Brewing 1340 Specialty Dr. Suite F fullbodybrewing.com


9. Indian Joe Brewing NOW 2123 Industrial Ct. !!! OPEN indianjoebrewing.com 10. Iron Fist Brewing Co. 1305 Hot Spring Way #101 ironfistbrewing.com 11. Prohibition Brewing Company 2004 E Vista Way prohibitionbrewingcompany.com 12. SpecHops Brewing Company 1280 Activity Drive NOW !!! OPEN spechops.com 13. Latitude 33 1430 Vantage Ct #104 latitude33brewing.com

@VISTAbeer #VISTAbeer




Over the last 24 months there has been an increase in the number of artisanal AKA craft distilleries in San Diego County. This movement was initially influenced by the local craft brewing scene, and has recently started to accelerate due to the implementation of the State of California’s Craft Distillers Act of 2015 (AB1295), which allowed for the creation of a Type 74 license which eases the prior restrictions on craft distillers.

619 SPIRITS Distillates: 619 Vodkas with various infusions, including a rose petal infusion, a cucumber infusion, a Scorpion pepper infusion and a coffee infusion. Launched in 2012, 619 Vodka brand owner Nick Apostolopoulos is spreading his wings with his own distillery and restaurant just off 30th Street, Nick Apostolopoulos during smack bang in the construction at 619 Spirits middle of craft beer-centric North Park. The restaurant, which is set to debut this spring or summer, will serve “a new American menu (think burgers, pasta, salads) using locally-sourced ingredients when possible.” Currently, 619 Vodka is 4

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This local distilling movement seems to have now built its own momentum, and the camaraderie among the craft distillers has the same feel as that amongst the brewers in the early days of craft beer in San Diego. If that model continues to progress in a similar fashion we are in for a great future of local craft distilling. Time to Feel the Spirit!

distilled elsewhere as a private label brand; however, Nick is bringing things in-house with a thousand-liter still and will continue to focus on the 619 Vodka brand initially. 619 Vodka is 190 proof and distilled from cane sugar. All infusions are made with natural ingredients sourced locally, including coffee from Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. No artificial ingredients, flavorings or colorings are used. Nick is also planning on distilling “some limoncello, orangecello, liqueurs and eventually rums, gins and perhaps whiskey.” The additional good news is that as there is a restaurant on-site so a full bar is allowed under the Type 74 license. Nick plans to feature as many of the locally-produced San Diego craft spirits as possible as well as beer and wine. So, just in case you needed it, this is one more reason for a North Park pub crawl. Location: 3015 Lincoln Ave, San Diego, CA 92104 Opening date TBA. 619vodka.com

BNS BREWING AND DISTILLING CO Distillates: 80 proof grain vodka, and a dangerously smooth 150 proof moonshine, released in early March. Also, a brandy in collaboration with San Pasqual Winery.

Perhaps best known locally for their brewing, particularly their “Revolver IPA” which took the Gold Medal at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival, the distilling part of BNS Brewing and Distilling has mostly been on hiatus since 2014. Now armed with a Type 74 license, they started distilling again in January. The current distillers are Blake Heffernan, Blake Heffernan, Little Villain a homebrewer and Mat Brady and Home Brew Mart veteran, and Mat Brady. In addition to the distillates listed above, the guys are planning on making all kinds of whiskies including a bourbon, a single malt whiskey and some “alt” whiskies using a beer base. Location: 10960 Wheatlands Ave #101, Santee, CA 92071 Tasting room hours for the distillery are yet to be announced. Check out the website for updates. Phone: 619.956.0952 BNSAmerica.com

ability to talk the ear off a jug, Casey is one of those change agents who seems to be truly enjoying altering the status quo and helping to get both the liquid and the word out regarding local craft distilling. Dun Sloan, operations manager and investor in the company, is the yin to Casey’s yang. Together they seem like a formidable force. Location: 382 Enterprise St Ste 104, San Marcos, CA 92078 Tasting room: “It’s recommended that you call ahead just to make sure we’re not at a late lunch or Home Depot when you show up!” Monday and Tuesday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m; Saturday by appointment. Private functions are also available. Phone: 619.677.7066 CaliforniaSpiritsCompany.comble.

COPPER COLLAR DISTILLERY Distillates: A double-distilled, sugar-based, glutenfree 80 proof vodka with Champagne yeast used in fermentation and no carbon filtering (to ensure more flavor). A white rum and gold rum aged in bourbon barrels will be released a little later this year. More whiskey and bourbon to follow.

CALIFoRNIA SPIRITS CO. Distillates: Silver rum, white rum, bourbon, single malt whiskey, “a rye on the way” as well as some ready-to-drink premixes: Coffeetini, Cinnamon Apple Pie, and California Mojito. In addition, they distill for numerous private labels including Venom Vodka and the grape based U4Rik Vodka. Casey Miles, owner Casey Miles and Dun Sloan and master distiller is a major booster of the local distilling scene. Well-informed and with the

Scott Nixon, general manager (background) and Jason Pelle, head distiller Jason Pelle and Scot Nixon met while Navy divers, stationed at Undersea Rescue Command on Coronado. The distillery’s Copper Collar moniker is derived from the older style copper collars that deep sea divers would use to secure their diving helmets to their diving suits. Jason and Scott had talked in detail about doing something together after they left the service. Scott’s Navy duty ended a year before Jason’s and he was enrolled in a Business Administration degree (which he is currently completing) when he got a call from Jason regarding opening a distillery. With initial assistance from Ray Digilio of Kill Devil Spirit Co they managed to get started around February of 2015. Ray is also currently distilling his Kill Devil products out of the Copper Collar location as he contemplates his next moves. SD Beverage Times • Volume 1 Issue 2


Location: 8733 N. Magnolia Ave, Suite 126 Santee, CA 92071 Tours, Tastings, and Bottle Sales: Friday 3 - 7 p.m.; Saturday 12 - 7 p.m. If you are in the vicinity and are driving by, look for the Copper Collar flag outside Suite 126. If it is flying then Scott and/or Jason are on the premises. If you want to visit outside of their regular business hours or utilize their venue for a private function then call or email Scott or Jason to request a time to visit. Scott Nixon 619.758.5926 scott@coppercollardistillery.com Jason Pelle 812.704.2527 jason@coppercollardistillery.com coppercollardistillery.com

just hardwired that way. Armed with some heavy experience, hard earned awards and boundless energy, we’re charging ahead to carve out our place in the global spirits industry. At Cutwater we make stuff we like, share it with friends, and invite all who share our passion to join the journey.” Location: 9750 Distribution Ave, San Diego, CA 92121 Tasting room and restaurant: Opening summer 2017; hours TBA. CutwaterSpirits.com

HENEBERY WHISKEY Distillates: Henebery Celebrated Whiskey, a 90 proof rye whiskey.

CUTWATER SPIRITS Distillates: Various vodkas, various gins, various rums, bourbon whiskey, single malt whiskey, moonshine, various mixers and a number of canned cocktails.

Jesse Fanning and his new Vendome still

Distillers Yuseff Cherney, Tarin Wages, Bobby Tyron, Nate Schowalter So you sell your craft brewery for a billion dollars and then what? A nice big yacht to cruise the Caribbean? A downpayment on the Falcon 8X private jet? Not for the Ballast Point guys. Clearly of the “go big or go home” mold, they are doubling down and have built a large distillery and packaging plant with a restaurant on the way. It is located in Miramar not too far from their old stomping grounds and they have named it Cutwater Spirits. As part of the sale of Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, the now Cutwater guys managed to negotiate to keep the entire spirits side of the business including individual product names and lots of tasty stuff currently getting happy in barrels. Here’s the official blurb straight from the pioneering team: ”At Cutwater, we are dauntless spirits. We’re always focused on the horizon, the road ahead. We’re


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Former casino pit boss Jesse Fanning married into a family whose wife Natalie’s ancestor, Matthew Henebery, was a distiller, importer and distributor of alcohol back in the late 1800s in Peoria, Illinois. After inheriting some old labels, letters and other ephemera, an idea was sparked and a new Henebery Whiskey was born. The whiskey has been distilled by a Los Angeles craft distillery for the past three and a half years and the Fannings are now in the process of building a distillery and tasting room in Vista. The current Henebery Celebrated Whiskey is infused with organic vanilla, cardamon and citrus which gives it a unique and interesting flavor profile. A bourbon and also single malt whiskey will soon be added to the lineup as well as a “barrel-aged cocktail program” that will only be available in the tasting room. The tasting room is scheduled to open sometime in March 2017. Location: 2870 Scott St, Vista, CA 92081 Check out the website for the official opening date and tasting room hours. HeneberyWhiskey.com

KILL DEVIL SPIRIT CO. Distillates: RX Vodka, which is unfiltered, 12 times distilled, 80 proof gluten-free and sugar-based; Valor Gin, influenced by “West Coast-style” craft beers at 94 proof with notes of Chinook hops, grapefruit and mint; Ugly, the company’s “California Moonshine” is 90 proof and made from premium 6-row malted barley; and Ugly Ray Digilio, founder and distiller “Rise and Shine” is similar to its ugly sister but naturally caffeinated with Dark Horse Coffee Roasters’ premium Brazilian coffee beans. Former Queens, New York native Ray Digilio moved to California and worked in the aerospace procurement business before making the leap to craft distilling in 2011 in what is now considered the early days of California craft distilling, establishing the original Kill Devil Spirit Co. in Spring Valley. Self-financed and cobbling together what little he could at the time, Digilio initially distributed his brand through wholesale “cash and carry” liquor stores in San Diego. After a couple of years, Digilio managed to get his product into a major distributor and it was going through this process that he really learned a lot about the US liquor distribution business and specifically how that relates to smaller craft boutique distillers. Digilio has used that experience to operate as a consultant to other distillers and continues to operate Kill Devil though currently as a roving distiller, utilizing the still at Copper Collar Distillery in Santee while he contemplates his next steps for growth. Tasting room hours: see Copper Collar Distillery To contact Ray: phone 1.888.399.4961 OR email Info@KillDevilSpiritCo.com KillDevilSpiritCo.com

LIBERTY CALL Distillates: A four-grain (corn, wheat, rye, barley) 90 proof whiskey aged in “a Solera system generally reserved for fine Cognacs and brandies,” as well as a “Navy Strength White Rum” that’s 123 proof, a 90 proof

white rum, and a 90 proof spiced rum. Also in the works are a “barrel-rested” gin, a barrel-aged rum, and a dark-aged spiced rum.

Bill Rogers, founder and distiller Liberty Call is the onboard announcement that informs navy personnel that they can now leave their vessel once docked in port and go ashore for a prescribed number of hours. Bill Rogers, a Coronado homebrewer, gave a liberty call to his 401K and used the proceeds to invest in a distillery. He was initially granted a Type 4 license in 2014 and received one of the first Type 74 licenses in 2016. Not too long after, partner and distiller Steve Grella officially joined after he completed his navy career. Then Bill and Steve brought in brewer Addison Toth as the final piece of this distilling triumvirate. In addition to distilling under their Liberty Call brand, the guys also private label for others. Location: 2739 Via Orange Way Suite 110, Spring Valley, CA 91978 Tasting room: Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. 7 p.m. (by appointment only; reservations can be made online); Friday 5 - 8 p.m.; Saturday 12 - 7 p.m.; Sunday 1 - 5 p.m. “Drop-ins welcome on the weekends!” Phone : 619.630.1240 Email : Info@LibertyCallDistilling.com LibertyCallDistilling.com

MALAHAT SPIRITS CO Distillates: Numerous rums including white, spiced, black tea, ginger, and one aged in cabernet barrels; bourbon whiskey; rye whiskey; four-grain vodka. Former investment portfolio managers Ken Lee and Tom Bleakley both with homebrewing and home winemaking experience teamed up with a mutual friend and self proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” Tony Grillo to create Malahat, named after a rum-running schooner that plied its trade on the West Coast during Prohibition. By doing tons of their own R&D and selecting only the finest ingredients, the Malahat SD Beverage Times • Volume 1 Issue 2


coffee liqueur, Ampersand, is a collaboration with locals Coffee & Tea Collective. Location: 270 17th St, San Diego, CA 92101 Call 619.630.7048 or email info@oldharbordistilling. com to set up a time to visit. OldHarborDistilling.com

PERFECT SOUL Ken Lee, Tony Grillo and Tom Bleakley guys have set themselves on a course for excellence. “We seek out extraordinary ingredients, combine traditional techniques with experimentation, and handcraft it all from scratch to make the finest spirits. We are proud of every drop and will only produce what we love to drink ourselves.” Location: 8706 Production Ave, San Diego, CA 92121 Tasting room: Friday & Saturday 12 - 7 p.m (last tasting at 6:30 p.m.) Private tastings available by appointment 858.999.2326 RumRunner@MalahatSpirits.com

OLD HARBOR DISTILLING CO. Distillates: “San Miguel Southwestern Gin”; “Barrelflag Navy Strength Rum”; “Ampersand Cold Pressed Coffee Liqueur”. Michael Skubic was the first employee at Mike Hess Brewing Co. Skubic readily admits however that his go-to drinks have always been whiskey and gin and he took a Michael Skubic, founder little time touring and distiller Portland, Oregon’s distilleries before setting up shop on the eastern edge of the East Village area downtown with sidekick Ricky Warner, a fellow distiller and VP of Operations. Old Harbor Distilling Co. is primarily a production facility and their tasty wares are distributed all over California. That said, they do have a tasting room that is by appointment only. Their 8

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Distillates: 100 proof rum, 100 proof whiskey. David Jackson, former bouncer and bar/nightclub manager, quotes Jay Z in describing his approach craft distilling: “Far from a Harvard student, just had the balls to do it.” From time spent on the other side of the bar, Jackson clearly understands the upmarket consumer The fine offerings from he is going after and Perfect Soul his “narrow focus” is on “small batch and high quality” for Perfect Soul’s whiskey and rum. Location: 215 S Pacific St #104, San Marcos, CA 92078 Tasting Room: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 4 - 9 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday 12 - 5 p.m. Phone: 760.644.6806 PerfectSoulWhiskey.com

SAN DIEGO DISTILLERY Distillates: Bourbon whiskey, rye whiskey, American single malt whiskey, rye whiskey, peated whiskey, craft beer whiskey and the occasional rum. Trent Tilton, a former brewer, is making some very interesting distillates with a primary focus on whiskey. Tilton is by his own admission “super experimental” and a tasty American single malt whiskey based on his Russian imperial stout homebrew is, dare I say it, proof positive. There’s some “peaty” whiskey on hand too, made with peated barley imported from Scotland and an different take on a bourbon that is made with a relatively high percentage of Vienna malt in the corn mash. Should you become anxious and develop

heart palpitations when trying to decide which of the plethora of deliciousness you are going to sample… fear not, Tilton is also a registered nurse. Location: 2766 Via Orange Way Suite H Spring Valley, CA 91978 Tasting Room: Friday 4 - 8 p.m.; Saturday 1 - 7 p.m.; Sunday 1 5 p.m.; Monday Trent Tilton, founder and distiller through Thursday call 619.361.1525 or email via website for appointment. SDDistillery.com

SAN DIEGO SUNSHINE Distillates: Various grape brandies finished in different barrels, 100 proof wheat whiskey infused with honey, and a couple 100 proof “specialty spirits” based on a wheat and barley grain bill: Blueberry/Honey as well as Apple Pie Sunshine with a honey infusion, red ambrosia, Granny Smith apples and cinnamon. A rye whiskey aged in red wine barrels is also planned.

that’s used in some of his distillates, which comes from hives that he and his wife Amanda maintain at their home not too far from the distillery. The blueberries in the flavored moonshine are also locally sourced as are the grapes for his brandy. In addition to distilling brandy for San Diego Sunshine, Paul also operates as a contract distiller making brandy for some of the thirty or so vineyards in the immediate region. San Diego Sunshine products are also available in limited distribution in liquor stores and restaurants across San Diego County. Location: 432 Maple Street, Suite 6, Ramona, CA 92065 Tasting room: Thursday through Sunday 12 - 9 p.m. and by appointment. The distillery is also available for private functions. Phone: 619.820.3379 SanDiegoSunshine.com

SEVEN CAVES DISTILLING CO. Distillates: All ultra-small batch creations including a bourbon-influenced, whiskey-centric rum which is currently available. Various whiskeys and bourbon will be available in the not too distant future. In addition, “non-traditional gins, absinthe, eau de vie and other spirits are in the works.”

Geoff Longnecker, founder and distiller

Paul Markham and the still he built by hand

A machinist and welder by trade with a homebrewing background, Paul Markham is the founder and distiller at San Diego Sunshine Craft Spirits. Paul opened the distillery in 2015 and in 2016 he applied for and received a Type 74 license. Paul’s machinist skills are clearly a valuable asset in a distillery; he built his own still which he is currently planning on converting into a continuous still. His DIY and openly espoused “farm to table” ethos even carries over to the avocado honey

Geoff Longnecker, a lawyer by training and long-time San Diegan resident, grew up in the South and went to school in both Kentucky and New Orleans. In addition to being a homebrewer of 20 years plus, he is also an accomplished cook, both of which seemingly underlie his philosophy that “everything at Seven Caves is single barrel, single batch and every batch is different.” Longnecker believes that “uniformity at the craft level is not the way to go. I think when you have uniformity in flavor you’re losing some of the creativity that this process allows you.” From the Kentucky bourbon barrels used for aging his rum, to specially-selected sugar and molasses from his youth in Louisiana, everything is selected with care and attention, and it shows.

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Seven Caves’ tasting room will be open in the summer of 2017. By appointment only 619.300.1624. The7Caves.com

SWINFORD SPIRITS Distillates: Whiskey, gin, vodka.

Jason and John Swinford. “Purveyors of Fun” is Swinford Spirits’ motto and it shows up in their distillates. Brothers Jason and John Swinford are clearly focused on building separate and differentiated brands for their products. “Lumberjack Lily” is a Canadian whiskey infused with toasted quinoa and organic ginger, “Foxlore Gin” is a citrus-forward gin with the “juniper dialed way back” and “Lingo Vodka” is a six times distilled organic wheat-based vodka that comes with an infuser in the bottle so you can flavor your very own vodka if and as you so desire. Location: 5980 Fairmount Ave #103, San Diego, CA 92120 Tasting room: Tuesday through Saturday 12 - 7 p.m.; Sunday 12 - 5 p.m.; closed Mondays. SwinfordSpirits.com

YOU & YOURS DISTILLING CO. Distillates: Distillates: “Y&Y Vodka” is an “American style vodka made from potatoes, grapes and corn” and “Sunday Gin” is a “modern gin with juniper and citrus up front and floral notes on back.” Texas native Laura Johnson’s initial “a-ha” distilling moment came relatively early when in her late teens she visited the original Old Havana Club Distillery in Cuba with her dad. Now that’s the cultural exchange I am talking about! Over the years her interest in distilling grew and she eventually took the time to travel to numerous craft distilleries in the US in an effort to continue learning. After graduating with


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an economics and international business degree at USD, Laura’s passion for distilling continued, so to further her distillation education, she enrolled in the Distilling School program at Dry Fly in Spokane, Washington, and she also attended the Distilled Spirits Epicenter’s Master Distiller’s course in Louisville, Kentucky. Laura Johnson, distiller and With that pedigree, founder at the “You & Yours San Diego’s craft Distilling Co.” bar during distillate fans are construction. going to be truly happy that she has decided to set up her still here. For a little more about Laura, check out her blog at Distillerista.com Location: 1495 G Street, San Diego, CA 92101 “You & Yours Distilling Co” opened to the public in March 2017. Tasting room: Thursday & Friday 4 -10 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday 12 - 10 p.m. YouAndYours.com


THE DISTILLERY FORMERLY KNOWN AS GENEROUS SPIRITS Planned distillates: Gin, rum, whiskies - both traditional and “alt”. Santa Barbara native Justin McCabe is armed with a doctorate in chemistry from UCSD and a background in homebrewing. He currently teaches chemistry at a high school in the Carlsbad area (insert “Breaking Bad” joke here). Justin has also taken courses at the Artisan Distilling Institute in Washington and has a Gatling Still Works “steam infusion still” on order. Due to a conflict in usage, Justin had to change the planned distillery’s name from “Generous Spirits” and the new name is in the process of clearing the various hurdles to avoid the same issue; it will be announced as soon as it is secured.

Location: 2332 La Mirada Dr, #800, Vista, CA 92081 (same business park as Aztec Brewery)

TYPE 74 California Distilling License: The Basics

Opening: TBA later in 2017

The ever patient Justin McCabe


3PM - 10PM


12PM - 10PM


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Established by The Craft Distillers Act of 2015 (AB1295), this bill was aimed specifically at artisanal distilleries producing less than 100,000 gallons of distillate a year. Beginning on January 1, 2016, distillers were granted new privileges, such as the ability to serve their spirits on-site in up to 1.5 ounce tastings or as part of a small cocktail with a non-alcoholic mixer, sell their spirits to-go in amounts up to 2.25 liters (such as 3 x 750mL bottles), host private events, and own a restaurant on the distilling premises. If a restaurant is built on-site, a full bar is allowed — including beer, wine and more — though other companies’ spirits must also be made available.

















8 5




2 4












CHULA VISTA Map not to scale

1. 619 Spirits 3015 Lincoln Ave San Diego, CA 92104

6. HENEBERY WHISKEY 2870 Scott Street Vista, CA 92081

11. SAN DIEGO DISTILLERY 2766 Via Orange Way Suite H Spring Valley, CA 91978

2. BNS BREWING AND DISTILLING CO 10960 Wheatlands Ave #101 Santee, CA 92071

7. LIBERTY CALL 2739 Via Orange Way Suite 110 Spring Valley, CA 91978

12. SAN DIEGO SUNSHINE 432 Maple Street, Suite 6 Ramona, CA 92065

3. CALIFORNIA SPIRITS CO. 382 Enterprise Street Ste 104 San Marcos, CA 92078

8. MALAHAT SPIRITS CO 8706 Production Ave San Diego, CA 92121

13. SEVEN CAVES SPIRITS 7950 Stromesa Court Miramar, CA 92126

4. COPPER COLLAR DISTILLERY / KILL DEVIL SPIRIT CO 8733 N. Magnolia Ave, Suite 126 Santee, CA 92071

9. OLD HARBOR DISTILLING CO. 270 17th Street San Diego, CA 92101

14. SWINFORD SPIRITS 5980 Fairmount Ave #103 San Diego, CA 92120

10. PERFECT SOUL 215 S Pacific Street #104 San Marcos, CA 92078

15. YOU & YOURS DISTILLING CO. 1495 G Street San Diego, CA 92101

5. CUTWATER SPIRITS 9750 Distribution Ave San Diego, CA 92121


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SD Beverage Times • Volume 1 Issue 2

Q&A with Bruce Glassman Bruce Glassman is the president and publisher of Georgian Bay Books. His company’s latest creation, the San Diego Winery Guide, visits every winery, vineyard, and tasting room in the county. The book shows “location details” for each spot, including whether or not there’s a patio, a view, if it’s kid/pet friendly, and more. Itineraries in the back of the book show which wineries are clustered together — a handy resource for your favorite designated driver. Some of Glassman’s past titles, including San Diego’s Top Brewers and Brew Food, have been honored by the San Diego Book Awards Association.

Bruce Glassman

All photos are ©Bruce Glassman/Courtesy San Diego Winery Guide, which is available at dozens of local winery tasting rooms and GeorgianBayBooks.com How many wineries are in the county? There are officially 115 wineries in San Diego County— and remember: We’re not talking Temecula! Not all those wineries are open to the public, and some are only open by appointment (most wineries are happy to accommodate visitors who call ahead).

French ones that are used to make Bordeaux and Rhone wines, Italian varietals that are used to make Chianti and Barolo, as well as Spanish grape varieties used in Rioja, and many world-famous varieties from Argentina, Chile, and New Zealand. If you could pick four or five bottles of wine from San Diego to show to the rest of the wine world, which would they be? There are so many great wines being made in San Diego today that whittling them down to just four or five is nearly impossible, but here are some standouts: 1. Domaine Artefact Roussanne or Marsanne: This winery does primarily Rhone-style wines and does them all really well. The Roussanne and Marsanne are traditional Rhone whites, and Domaine Artefact’s versions of them are highly flavorful, elegant, beautifully balanced wines.

How many varieties of grapes grow in San Diego?

2. Hungry Hawk Cabernet Franc and Albariño: Mike Embly, the winemaker at this small, family-run winery in Escondido, is a talented young guy. His Cab Franc is a complex red with all sorts of green bell pepper, chocolate, and black pepper spice going on, and his Albariño (a Spanish white varietal) has the body and mouthfeel of a Chardonnay, but with a lighter, crisper acidity.

More than 60 varieties of vinifera grapes are grown in San Diego County. We actually have the most varied climates and growing zones of any county in the country! We have grapes growing in alpine settings, coastal settings, valley settings, and near desert settings. You can find all the classic varietals, like the

3. Orfila Estate Syrah and Roussanne: Rhone varieties are particularly well-suited to the San Pasqual Valley region, and winemaker Justin Mund does an awesome job with all the Rhone-style wines he makes, especially his big, powerful, inky Syrah and his rich,

Great views and wines come together at Altipiano Vineyard and Winery


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luscious, but elegantly balanced Roussanne (which in my opinion could pass for a Mersault/French white Burgundy in a blind tasting).

5. Poppaea Sagrantino: I have to give props to this tiny Ramona winery—not only for making a Sagrantino, which is a little-known Italian variety from Umbria, but also for making it so well. This wine is big and powerful, with enough tannin to be aged for at least 3-5 years. I always say that a good Sagrantino is like what you’d get if a Chianti and a Barolo had a baby. What’s the best wine-pairing experience you’ve had in San Diego?

Escondido’s Hungry Hawk Vineyards offers award-winning wines 4. Fallbrook BDX and Sauvignon Blanc: No list of world-class wines is complete without a tip of the cap to Fallbrook, which is San Diego’s largest winery and also one of its very best. The BDX blend is a super-silky wine made from estate-grown cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc; it is meant to emulate the classic Bordeaux blends of the great chateaux, which it does in spades. Fallbrook’s Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite alternative to Chardonnay; it’s got great body but isn’t overly heavy and it sports just the right balance of tropical fruit, grassiness, and oak.

The best wine-pairing experience I’ve had in San Diego was actually while we were working on Through the Grapevine, the coffee-table book we did with Orfila Winery. That project included special recipes that were created by some of our best local chefs and were designed specifically to pair with Orfila wines. Ron Oliver, from the Marine Room, did a dish with grilled oysters and Pinot Blanc peach butter that was amazing with Orfila Pinot Blanc; Amy diBiase, from Tidal, did a braised lamb shank with ricotta gnudi and eggplant purée that was out of this world with Orfila Cabernet Sauvignon; and Rachel King, pastry chef from NineTen, paired Orfila Gewürztraminer with an outrageous goat cheese, hazelnut, and cherry tart. What’s coming up in the wine world we should know about? Coming up April 30: The 22nd Annual San Diego County Vintners Wine & Food Festival at Bernardo Winery in Rancho Bernardo. The event starts at 1 p.m. and goes until 4 p.m. This is the signature event sponsored by San Diego’s largest winery association every year. Go to SanDiegoWineries.org/events for more info and tickets.

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WHISKEY By Ian Cheesman

Imagine you’ve just returned home from a needlessly long and trying day. You’re all but spent. There is nothing left to do but capture a few fleeting moments for yourself. You could finally catch up on your correspondence or crack that novel that everyone’s been raving about, but then you remember that neither of those activities result in your mouth tasting like whiskey. Suddenly, a new plan emerges. So you initiate your ritual: you grab your favorite mug, allow a few ounces of the amber elixir to tumble into it, sink into your comfiest chair, and gingerly sip the… Hold on. What the hell are you doing? You call that drinking whiskey, you bungling troglodyte? Don’t look at me like that. I don’t give a shit that you’re enjoying it; you’re enjoying it WRONG. God, you sicken me. I’ll grant that dramatic set piece was a bit overwrought, but at one time or another every whiskey drinker has been presented with (and likely shamed by) someone’s designation of the One True Tasting Method. Only those that adhere to its tenets are capable of understanding whiskey’s grandeur and all others are vile apostates.


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It doesn’t have to be like that. I want to enjoy my whiskey without intimidation or reservation. But even if those stigmas didn’t exist, I would still want to know I am appreciating the product to its fullest degree. In an effort to demystify whiskey tasting, I reached out to two local champions of the whiskey industry. Brett Winfield is general manager at Seven Grand (3054 University Avenue), bringing 15 years of bartending experience to the North Park whiskey lounge. Seven Grand is home to a towering wall of hundreds of whiskies, which is a wondrous spectacle to behold absent seismic activity. I was also joined by Trent Tilton, president and distiller for San Diego Distillery (2766 Via Orange Way Suite H, Spring Valley), who leverages the flavors from his homebrewing past to produce a wide variety of small batch artisanal whiskies. You can experience his craft 1.5 ounces at a time in their tasting room or in one of their limited retail outlets.

Photo by Kristina Yamamoto


SELECTION Being faced with hundreds of whiskey options can be equally enthralling and daunting. Some may revel in the possibilities, but it can paradoxically compel consumers to stick to a core brand that will deliver a reliable experience. However, with a little guided exploration and self-awareness, a multitude of options present themselves. Short of just pointing at the bottle you find the prettiest, finding a new whiskey to enjoy is all about articulating what you like. This can be tricky if you don’t have a lot of experience to draw upon. If you have a personal favorite to reference, that is often the best springboard because it immediately profiles the whiskey dimensions that resonate with you. Just knowing you’re a fan of Maker’s Mark, for example, will allow any decent bartender to infer you enjoy slightly sweeter whiskies that favor notes of butterscotch and vanilla. That provides a framework to identify aspects you’d like to match, amplify or even depart from entirely. If you can’t recall a brand or describe what you crave, fear not. Often times, Winfield finds discussing food is a worthy shortcut to unearthing your whiskey preferences. “Everyone eats food, so most people have the vocabulary to describe the foods that they like or the flavors that they like,” said Winfield. So if you are in the mood for dessert and you crave a chocolate torte, it’s okay to start there. For the record, there’s also something to be said for trying a pour from that random, pretty bottle. Fortune favors the bold after all. This method also favors the rich so consider getting a price check first.

SERVING The selection of a whiskey glass can be based as much on personal preference as logistics. A highball glass may not have specialized features that bolster the tasting experience, but its sturdiness in the hand feels like a fitting accompaniment to the potent quaff within. There’s no harm in opting for glassware that will serve you well in a brawl. Still, given a choice, a tulip glass or anything that tapers to focus aromatics is a nice touch. “Glencairns, which is the official whisky glass, were designed in Scotland for nosing single malt whisky,” Tilton said. “[That] is what I always use.” This brings us to arguably the most recognizable rift in whiskey sampling: should it be served neat or over ice? The right answer depends entirely on what you want from your whiskey.

Some may find comfort and familiarity in their favorite bourbon slowly eroding a block of ice. If that’s how you enjoy it, please proceed. However, both ice and whiskey stones have a propensity to mute the more elusive flavors and aromas. “If your goal is to smell all the smells, taste all the tastes, and learn something about whiskey...you should always start neat,” Winfield said.

SMELL Smelling whiskey is a tricky proposition. When one reads of the exotic scents described on bottle labels it creates an inclination to bury the nose in the glass and consume every last aromatic hovering about. This is akin to trying to discern what octane is in someone’s car by huffing their gas tank. Your olfactory capabilities will be entirely overcome by the volatile compounds and ultimately diminish your sensitivity. Whiskey (and gasoline, I suppose) require a more measured approach. There are multiple schools of thought on this. Some swirl it in the glass as they would a red wine, though many purport that still delivers a needlessly massive aromatic burst. My personal favorite method is to sweep the glass a couple of inches under the nose at speed to summon a drive-by waft of aroma. For those with a bit more patience, Tilton’s more specialized approach expresses both the smell and texture of the whiskey in one step. He carefully tilts the glass and rinses the upper interior of it with the whiskey before coming in for a sniff. “When it naturally comes down the side of the glass and somewhat vaporizes because it’s so thin, you’ll get a huge aroma characteristic right off the bat,” he said. Depending on the whiskey variant you’re sampling, you’re likely to encounter some blend of sweetness, smokiness, or spiciness in the nose. Make a mental note of the broad categories you encounter and try to marry them back to smells you’re familiar with. Should you experience sweet aromas, ask yourself if it’s more reminiscent of fruits, candies, pastries, or whatever else. It’s a good exercise to tune your senses and will go a long way to inform whiskies you’ll eventually favor. It bears mentioning that there are multiple breathing techniques that can accompany this endeavor. They cover all the possible permutations of inhaling and exhaling through the mouth and nose. That level of specificity seems unnecessary for the scope of this article, but feel free to experiment as you wish. Just know, for safety purposes, I definitely encourage you to breathe often during the process.

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SIP As with that treacherous first sniff, it pays to ease into your first taste. No matter how loudly your taste buds have been clamoring to dive in, they are illprepared for the volley of potent, if not overwhelming, flavors due to bombard them. Accordingly, Tilton recommends proceeding gingerly. “You should have just enough to coat the top of your tongue, and you’re going to push that around your mouth,” he said. If it’s enough to feel the burn in your throat when you swallow, it was probably too much. This initial sip isn’t so much about tasting the whiskey as performing organoleptic calisthenics. Think of this introductory brush against the tongue as a warm-up to accept the whiskey flavors. Subsequent small tastes will unveil more nuances to you. At this point there’s no denying you’ve paid the whiskey sufficient homage. No one could blame you if you want to disconnect from all the ceremony and just drink your freaking drink. However, if you’ve made it this far, you may enjoy taking the experience a bit further.

SUFFUSE (Full disclosure: “suffuse” isn’t really the correct term here, but I left it because it kept my alliterative streak going. There’s just no ideal “s” word to represent the addition of water. I suppose “spike” is accurate, but that has the opposite connotation from watering down. “Sprinkle” sounds more like you’re anointing whiskey than diluting it. “Squirt” is far too silly for consideration. So “suffuse” it is.) The addition of water, while counterintuitive, is actually a key component of tasting. Booze tends to anesthetize the palate as it does the nose. A touch of water will reduce the proof a bit and curtail that effect. However, it’s as much about chemistry as it is dilution. “In a whiskey there’s suspended fatty acids, esters, and aldehydes, similar to beer,” said Winfield. “When you add a dash of water you can release and help some of those open up a bit.” Even tiny additions of water will greatly facilitate uncovering more specific expressions of the flavors you’ve already identified. That vague fruitiness may start to come through more specifically as pear, blackberry, or myriad other options. I’ve found that botanical notes in aroma and flavor are much easier to detect as well.


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Still unconvinced? Consider that master blenders at whiskey distilleries will dilute their whiskey by as much as 20 to 30-percent with water so they can work through all the different embedded flavors and blend barrels appropriately. Just remember that the guideline is not so much a matter of volume as method. You can always add more water, but you can’t take it away. Start with a few drops at a time and revisit the scents and tastes with each pass. If possible, stick with reverse osmosis-filtered water to prevent unintended mineral or chemical influences. Should you dilute past your liking, remember there’s no reason you can’t blend more spirit back into the glass. It’s yet another of the many problems in life that can be solved with the addition of more whiskey.

SAVOR The power of this regimented procedure to whiskey tasting is that it not only primes your palate, it does the same for you. Adopting a more active approach will help expose layers of complexity that would otherwise be opaque to you. It elevates imbibing into a journey rather than a destination. It’s also way cheaper per hour than just shooting it, which is nice. All that said, there is no savoring without enjoyment. Never let the process interfere with that basic tenet. As optimal as this approach may be, we must acknowledge that sometimes we’re just craving that subtle sweetness and familiar burn radiating through our chest. The methodology will always be there when you’re ready to go exploring again. As Tilton is quick to remind, “There’s no wrong way to enjoy whiskey. Period.”

SD Beverage Times • Volume 1 Issue 2




MAY / Alpine Beer Company JUNE / Mother Earth Brew Co. JULY / Modern Times Beer

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San Diego Beverage Times Spring 2017  

San Diego Beverage Times Spring 2017  

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