New craft distilleries pour into Portland // (c) Rogue Ales
Long known as an epicenter for craft products, Portland has a thriving microdistillery scene that's developing as new distillers introduce unique spirits. The Central Eastside district - an industrial area quickly becoming Portland's new "it" neighborhood - is home to Distillery Row, a collaborative effort of five distilleries to provide visitors a tasting tour of local spirits.
Two newcomers to Distillery Row include Deco Distilling and Stone Barn Brandy Works. Deco's focus on rum might make visitors write off Bacardi forever. Stone Barn produces fruit brandies from local ingredients such as apples and pears in addition to grappa, ouzo, rye whiskey and liqueurs of coffee, strawberry and apricot.
Meanwhile, Bull Run Distillery -- named after the Mt. Hood watershed that supplies the fresh, clean water coveted by Portland brewers and distillers -- was launched in the spring of 2010. It's the brainchild of Lee Medof, who focuses primarily on dark spirits. He plans to create the first whiskey with an Oregon terroir, in addition to dark rums.
On Oct. 23 and 24, the Great American Distillers Festival celebrates all things something-proof in downtown Portland. The local event, which brings in craft distillers from around the United States, returns for its sixth year and is open to the public.