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Anchorage Distillery, Alaska, USA

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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Anchorage Distillery, Alaska, USA

There have been much published on the emergence of micro distilleries in the USA, the UK and indeed all over the world. Much of that has been positive but there is it appears one major drawback to a micro distillery that to my knowledge has gone unsaid. The truth is they don’t always make very long or interesting tours. A recent visit to this site in an industrial park on outskirts of Anchorage was a perfect example of that. After arriving at the very cosy bar I was taken to see the distillery. Ten minutes later I was back in the bar. A micro tour of a micro distillery? That said the cocktails, vodka, gin and white whisky samples flowed freely (though not in commercial sense, I had to pay) and I enjoyed my visit very much.  I was fortunate to be their only customer that chilly afternoon in February so I had full attention of their excellent host.  The finale was a ghost pepper vodka that is the oral equivalent of taking your palate to the woodshed and beating the crap out of it with a stick!  I left warm and content (with a slighty numb tongue) and a bag full of goodies from a rather well stocked shop, at least that is my recollection after 6 or 7 drink samples. I also took a 5cl sample of their Arctic Ice Moonshine Whiskey (http://www.somanywhiskies.com/reviews/item/814-arctic-ice-moonshine-whiskey) as the only aged whisky this site has produced to date is some rye that is still in cask but that means I have a reason to go back as well.



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St George's Distillery, Norfolk, England

St George's Distillery, Norfolk, England English whisky sounds like an oxymoron. How can whisky be English? Well apparently there is no reason why not, it just can't be scotch whisky, and here we go with some more Scotch and Irish whisky industry myth busting.  Apparently a good distillery doesn't require a special, preferably magical, spring of gentle soft water, a hundred years of tradition and a master distiller who has worked on the site since he was 6 years old and was born in a cottage in the distillery grounds.   Apparently you can just build a distillery and make good whisky.  Who knew (other than the folks at Penderyn)?  You can also build a nice gift shop and a small cafĂ© to go with it and attract a healthy trade in tourists.

A different spin on the distillery tour, in that rather than a standard  tour guide (usual attire at the large Scottish tours include tartan skirt, blue jumper, a branded rain jacket or fleece and name tag) after a short video (I have seen better) the distiller comes and talks to you about the distillery and the process and then leads you around the small site.  I really enjoyed this interaction with the person who actually makes the whisky.  This particular distiller had been working in the brewing industry prior to coming to St Georges just a few years previously.  He was not born in a cottage on the site.  He also discussed St Georges water source, a hard water at 360 ppm Calcium, which is very different to the soft water espoused in Scotland.  Even Glenmorangie who famously use "hard water" in Scotland only has 160 ppm Calcium.  The process, other than aforementioned water hardness, is exactly the same as the major distilleries in Scotland with pot still double distillation at its core (unlike Penderyn) and as far as I could tell it would meet all criteria for being single malt scotch whisky if the whole operation was transplanted north of the border.  The other difference is they claim due to warmer climate in Norfolk, the whisky matures quicker so even the young expressions were comparable to the 10 to 12 years single malts from Scotland.

At the end of tour we tasted both the peated and non-peated expressions and I bought a bottle of Chapter 9, the peated one, and if you want you can read my review (3 out of 4stars).  I liked them both.  English whisky can be good.   I also a bought a coffee mug with the words "I would be rather be drinking English whisky" but that has since gone missing from my office!

I later realised that I had now visited a distillery in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (Jameson) and only a trip to Bushmills in Northern Ireland would be required to complete a distillery visit in every country in the British Isles.

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