Micro distilleries have become a national trend, and Columbus is lucky to have two of the best in the nation near the heart of downtown. Recently, I had the opportunity to tour both Middle West Spirits and Watershed Distillery, along with Brothers Drake Meadery and Till Dynamic Fare on the Columbus Distilleries Tour with Columbus Food Adventures.
Distilling is inherently interesting to see: a mix of science and alchemy. When passionate and articulate people explain their creative process, that makes it all the better to truly understand why these places are so special.
We started the evening at Middle West Spirits, where we learned the secrets of crafting a Polish-style flavorful (rather than neutral) vodka from soft red winter wheat grown right here in Ohio. Middle West uses 2 million pounds of this wheat per year in their production! A taste test comparing luxury brand Grey Goose proved that Middle West's OYO vodka stacks up and beats the best. Middle West's infusions (honey vanilla bean and stone fruit) are far superior to national brands, due to the fact that they use real ingredients rather than extracts, and can finely control the distilling process.
Next, we walked next door to Brothers Drake Meadery, a hotspot for hyper-local honey wine and live music. If you haven't tried mead before, it is a drink made of fermented honey - it's sweet and tasty! Brothers Drake makes a huge array of seasonal meads, and the most popular among them is Apple Pie. Fresh pressed apple cider is mixed with local honey and fermented to make a deliciously sweet and flavorful result. Another favorite is Bergamot Blue, which mixes mead with blueberries and bergamot flowers (the flavoring agent for Earl Grey tea.) Brothers Drake is committed to staying local, and their full-service bar is a great example of that - all products they use are made in Central Ohio.
The next stop was Watershed Distillery, about a 10-minute drive away. Watershed is known for its Four-Peel Gin, which happens to be my personal favorite liquor - I will admit that I was in awe to see where it's made. First, we talked through the process of distillation, the flavorings of the gin, and the barrel aging process for Watershed's bourbon and bourbon barrel-aged. The distillery itself is compact, and features beautiful copper stills, which were both in production during our visit. When we toured the barrel aging area, I had the thought to hide and make a life in the rafters, but I begrudgingly left with the group.
Finally, we stopped at Till Dynamic Fare on King Avenue for a nightcap. Till's creative mixologist makes a new drink for each group - He called ours Coffee and Cigarettes - an interesting mix of St. Germaine, coffee liqueur and scotch, and it definitely lived up to its name. Till also brought out a nice plate of food for each guest.
Seeing all these places with Columbus Food Adventures was a great experience. The comfy van and built-in designated driver made for safe sampling of all these great drinks. Our guide, co-owner Jim Ellison, was extremely knowledgeable and friendly - the Columbus Distillery Tour is a great idea for an adult evening activity for your next visit to Columbus!