PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon is making a big name for itself in the beer and wine industries, and now, it’s adding locally-distilled spirits to the list.
Scattered throughout inner Southeast Portland are 8 businesses collectively known as Distillery Row. Inside these small warehouses and light industrial buildings are people who are passionate about handcrafted spirits — everything from vodkas to gins, rums and whiskeys, to more specialized spirits.
Distillery Row includes House Spirits Distillery, Wild Roots, Rolling River, Eastside Distilling, Townshend’s Distillery, Vinn Distillery Tasting Room and New Deal Distillery.
Stone Barn Brandyworks makes everything from exotic liqueurs to Oregon fruit-flavored brandies. On the day KOIN 6 News stopped by, the team was distilling bourbon whiskey under the direction of head distiller, Andy Garrison.
Sebastian Degens and his wife, Erika, launched Stone Barn in back in 2009.
“The abundance that Oregon has in agricultural products that we can work with is amazing,” said Sebastian Degens.
He added that the thing that sets Portland’s distillers apart is the same thing that sets its wineries and breweries apart.
“I think we all have a dedication to quality,” said Degens.
Just north of Stone Barn is another distillery that values that same concept.
Tom Burkleaux, founder of New Deal Distillery, said the decision to start one of the first distilleries in the City of Roses was easy for him.
“I woke up one day in 2001 and said, ‘Why don’t I make booze?’ And being Portland, the next thought was – of course you can do this,” said Burkleaux. “I think we couldn’t do this in another city. Portland has this natural craft and as soon as you have an idea, you go ahead and do it.”
While Distillery Row continues to attract scores of tourists, one Portland gin recently caught the attention of a famous investor.
Actor Ryan Reynolds of “Deadpool” fame bought Aviation Gin — created by House Spirits Distillery — in 2018. It’s a move that’s helped catapult Portland into the spotlight for handcrafted spirits.
“Gin’s been around for hundreds of years and Aviation is just a craft gin from Portland, Oregon. Portland. WOW!” remarked Reynolds.
Interested in trying out some of Portland’s spirits for yourself?
You can buy a Portland Distillery Passport, which gets you tastings at all the distilleries on Distillery Row, as well as tastings at the three Northwest Portland distilleries that make up the Northwest Distiller’s Guild.