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Thursday, September 3, 2015

St. Augustine Distillery Releases Rum Discovery Series Sept. 3

It's St. Augustine's 450th Birthday, and celebrations abound in the city from Sept. 4-8.  As I walked around the downtown yesterday, stages were being prepped, yellow-and-red buntings were draped on buildings, and the tour trolleys were humming along.  What better time to visit the St. Augustine Distillery Co.  It appears that quite a few others had the same thought, as the distillery hosted a steady stream of visitors. 





There's a high level of excitement around the distillery, as it releases its first rum, the Discovery Series No. 1, on Sept. 3.  That's a cause for celebration, too! The Discovery Series consists of four different recipe limited-release rums, with Nos. 2 through 4 being released each month for the remainder of 2015. And, hey, hey, I was able to obtain a bottle yesterday during a two-day pre-sale!



The Distillery opened in early 2014. Yesterday was my first visit here, and I enjoyed the tour...and the samples!  The Distillery took its home in the former Ice Plant operated by Florida Power and Light, and it dates back over 100 years.  

The Distillery is open  7 days, and it runs free tours every half hour until 5pm. They say that about 1000 people per week come through for tours!  A separate gift shop is adjacent to the distillery museum.  Before you leave for the tour, take some time to look at the items in the museum.  It's a large one-room exhibit, and you can learn about the distilling process, see a few artifacts, and enjoy some old-time photos.  The tour starts off with a short video featuring Brendan Wheatley, the head distiller, and interviews with local farming partners. The Distillery is very "local-focused," and I particularly liked the emphasis on those local partnerships. 




Following the video, the tour takes you inside the distillery plant -- where all the action happens.  The first thing I noticed upon entering the warehouse was the sweet aroma of sugar!  If you've ever been inside a brewhouse, you'll note some general similarities in the equipment.



What's different, though, are the barrels! Breweries generally have some barrels that are used for storing or aging "barrel-aged" beers, but take a look at these:




The Distillery produces four different products: gin, vodka, rum, and bourbon.  The gin and vodka have been available in the gift shop as well as at retail. The Distillery's vodka is made with sugar cane and molasses; and the gin consists of juniper berries, with citrus and other botanicals.  What's new is the RUM! Yes, that's made with sugar cane. And, the bourbon?  It'll be Florida's first bourbon! But, you'll have to wait til next fall (2016) for that -- it takes four years to age. 


Bourbon....coming in 2016
53 gallons in each large barrel.
Once the product is bottled, the Distillery re-uses the barrels for other products and other recipes.  And, the Distillery is growing so quickly, it already has obtained an additional warehouse!

And, how about some samples?  The tour ends in the tasting room, where your tour guide will mix up a couple of fine cocktails for you.  Their version of the Moscow Mule -- the Florida Mule -- was made with vodka, "mule mix," and bit of mint -- quite refreshing over the crushed ice.  By the way, the demonstration of the ice crushing was entertaining in itself. Got a wooden hammer?  Don't try that on your granite countertop, though. 






Empty boxes waiting to be
filled with bottles of gin, vodka
and RUM!
The tasting caps off an informative and fun tour.  Interested in purchasing products?  The adjacent gift shop has a large assortment of not only the spirits, but recipe books, clothing, glassware and various souvenirs. And, treat yourself to another sample -- of the new RUM!  Either straight or in a mixed lime daiquiri. Did I say RUM?  Because, you know, sometimes you just need to go for a little rum! (I think that's because I really like island vacations, and, well, there's rum there!)

Under the new law that went into effect in July, patrons can purchase two bottles of each brand per year in the gift shop. 

If you haven't been to the St. Augustine Distillery, you should go!  It's located at 112 Riberia St., just off the main downtown area, and is open 7 days (Mon-Sat, 10-6; Sun 11-6). Free parking is on the premises, or you can take the Red Train Trolley, which has a stop there. 


The Distillery is a sponsor of the St. Augustine 450 Celebration. 





ENJOY THE 450th!  If you see me wandering around, stop and say Hi!  Who knows, I might even buy you a beverage, if you're the first person to tell me you read my blog or follow me on social media!

So, this was a little different for me, as I usually write about beer, breweries, and beer events.  But, hey, I like to get in the spirit of things! Did I say rum?

Til next time!
Cheers!