Task 4/30: Tour where Hangar One Vodka is made & Taste Vodka
Pt. 1 Complete: December 23, 2007
It is no secret that one of the unique things about me is that I collect vodka, and yes, I drink it, with 95% of the bottles open and a lot of them starting to wane in volume. I've tried at least 75 vodkas and while I can't tell you if I like potato or rye better, I can tell you what I prefer in brands. Most people go wine tasting, which is also scheduled for this year, but I wanted to check out St. George's Spirits, the place where they made what I consider one of the best vodkas in the world - Hangar One. Technically scheduled for January, a stressful December and convenient timing had me figuring I might as well at least drop by while I was in the area to check it out. When I have the choice and the money to call it, I have always gone for it over my general choice of Stoli, and now, after the tour, it will be my first choice for life, and I will be their biggest cheerleader.
Getting to this damn building is *not* easy and the directions lifted from their site sucked. Seriously, driving 2 different cars around Alameda with an ancient map...not a good idea, but an interesting adventure anyway. We got there, and in perfect time for the tour around the warehouse and the breakdown of how they distill their spirits.
The guy that gave our tour was funny, and was one of only 8 employees that works there on staff. I was pretty impressed, but working for a small business, understood the power of a determined team. There was a good sized group with a varied age range listening to the process and asking questions about the products. We saw the stills and the infusion tanks, the barrels and the bottling setups and walked around the warehouse smaller than a football field, but filling glasses worldwide. It was amazing. The day before they had released the United States first legally bottled absinthe in decades and they sold out in 6 hours. They are doubling the batch for next time and rereleasing again in January. I swiped up a Hand Labeled Fraser River Red Raspberry and 3 mid sized bottles of Mandarin, Kaffir Lime and Plain as well as a "staff" tank top that says "Special Forces" on the front and "Semper Imbibo" on the back. I was super pleased with my new knowledge and purchases and decided that I wouldn't fight the holiday crowds at the bar or force my tentative stomach and would postpone the tasting portion of this task for another day. There are multiple wineries in the area and some other neat places in Alameda to visit, so I am going to arrange a second visit for later in February for tasting.
Mission 1/2 Accomplished.
See all my pictures here.