New England currently has about 60 craft distilleries, quite the number for this geographically small area of the country. While you can try the spirits at local bars, you can gain a better appreciation of the craft spirits you’re drinking when you understand the process and the vision behind them. For an even better look, you can visit some of these craft distilleries in person and learn directly from the distillers.
Here are five New England craft distilleries you should visit for a tour and tasting:
The Black River Gin from Sweetgrass Distillery has been named one of the top 50 spirits in the world. They use over 70,000 lbs of Maine-grown fruit and grain each year for their hand-crafted wines and spirits. This Maine winery and distillery holds tastings 11am-5pm daily from May 1 through New Year’s. A visit to their distillery offers so much more than the tour. Located on an old farm on a hill top in Union, Maine, they have self guided tours, hiking trails, picnic area, and gardens. The “After 5” experience expands the tour of the winery/distillery with a more intimate tasting with the winemaker. During this experience, you will enjoy your tasting paired with Maine made delicacies. Reservation is required for the After 5 experience, which is available from June-November.
This new South Boston distillery holds tastings from Thursday-Sunday but also run free tours on Saturday afternoons. For those looking for a more in-depth tour, attend one of the Friday Night Flights. The Friday Night Flights give a more detailed tour followed by a relaxed tasting, including some special, limited-run spirits not available elsewhere. GrandTen recently opened a cocktail bar inside the distillery complete with games. In addition, they’re also holding other fun events, such as Sunday Funday, featuring $6 cocktails and games.
Deacon Giles Distillery only opened only last year. The distillery is named after a fictional demon-infused distillery in Salem, MA as told in a story from 1835. Their Liquid Damnation Rum is the first rum to be distilled in Salem for over 100 years. This Salem distillery is open for tours and tastings from Thursday-Sunday. If that isn’t enough, you can also get a more thorough tour of Salem’s craft spirits and beer scene by hopping on the Salem Spirits Tour. The Salem Spirits tour is a guided, 3-hour tour on a historic trolley bus. The tour kicks off with a history lesson at Salem Spice followed by tastings at Far From the Tree Hard Cider, Notch Brewery, and Deacon Giles Distillery.
The distillery may only be 5 years old but the legacy started long ago. The owner’s great-great-great-grandfather who owned a distillery sometime in the 1850s. Their gin is distilled in the style of 18th and 19th century gin. Learn how this distillery is blending history and tradition with technology, and how they’re infusing the distillation process with their own creativity. The small operation means you will get an intimate and informative tour. New England Distilling in Portland, Maine offers public tours and tastings from Monday-Saturday.
Take in Boston craft spirit history by taking a tour of Bully Boy, Boston’s very first craft distillery. Bully Boy holds public tours on Saturday afternoons for $10 per person. End each tour with a tasting of their award-winning line of spirits. The tour starts with a cocktail made with their Hub Punch, based off a recipe created in the 1800s. During the tour, learn the story behind the name Bully Boy, the history, and the process of their distilling.
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