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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Ranger Creek, Texas, USA

Even though this was my 44th distillery visit, it was the first time I visited a brewery and distillery, or as they style it... a brewstillery.  This tour actually began with the question “Would you like a beer?” That makes for a really good start. However let’s go back a few steps. I got in touch with one of the founders, Mark, after I posted a review of their bourbon (http://www.somanywhiskies.com/reviews/item/364-ranger-creek-36-texas-bourbon ) and asked about tours. As I said some nice things in my review he kindly offered to show me around if I was ever in San Antonio and we got to meet for the first time at World of Whiskies in Austin a few weeks later. Soon afterwards I confirmed a date in December 2012, and even though it was a busy weekend for them, he was good enough to spare my wife and I an hour, pour us an excellent beer and take us around their operation. This is not your Scottish distillery tucked away in the hills, or located by the shores of Loch Indaal oozing “shortbread box” charm. Nope, Ranger Creek is based in an industrial park off a freeway a few miles from downtown San Antonio. However, despite the “terroir”, they happen to make good stuff. Forget that, they make great stuff. What these guys do proves to me, what I have long suspected, you don’t need all that ambience, history and lame stories about water sources etc. It appears to me you just need passionate people who care about making really good product (and these guys do, to the extent they run the place part time while maintaining full time jobs), some nice brewing and distilling kit (again check the box for Ranger Creek) and a little imagination… their malt cold smoking “room” is a great example, as are the rickhouses made from 40ft shipping containers. The “tour” ended not with whisky samples (archaic Texas licensing laws.... please take a bow) but with the gift of a couple of beers. We also bought some Ranger Creek t-shirts so I could type the words “been there, done that, bought the t-shirt” without any irony. I can’t wait to see what else they come up and I am really looking to future batches of bourbon as well as the single malt and rye they have maturing.

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Teeling Distillery, Dublin, Ireland

Teeling Distillery, Dublin, Ireland

My first distillery visit of 2016 coincided with Teeling's first birthday, this new distillery (one of many springing up in Ireland)  had been open about 1 year and 2 days. The site is a short, damp, walk from Dublin city center and is very impressive and includes a fantastic little cafe, gift shop, extensive tasting bar and well run and efficient tour.  You definately get the sense that the whole distillery was designed as a Dublin city tourist attraction first and a distillery second.   With no maturation on site (due to old Dublin bylaws, following a fire in the past, all whisky is matured away from the distillery) the tour is quite short and content clearly targeted at the tourist rather than the whiskey fanatic.   Due to their young age all their current stocks and bottlings are from stock produced by the Teeling family when they owned and operated Cooley Distillery.

There are multiple options for tastings at end of tour ranging from the basic line to cocktails to the more expensive single malt tasting that I opted for.  At 30 Euros for tour and tasting I don't think I have ever paid more for a distillery tour, except when I signed up for the rather expensive Magnus Eunson tour at Highland park which was at $100+ depending on exchange rate, but to be fair it did include a 40 year Highland Park. Like most Irish whiskey the tour is smooth, approachable and easy to consume... and I enjoyed it but perhaps would leave some wanting a little more.

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