Thursday, June 2, 2011

Behind the Scenes with Pacific Distillery

Located in Woodinville, Washington, Pacific Distillery is a small, family-owned and operated microdistillery dedicated to producing world class handmade spirits. We interviewed Mr. Marc Bernhard, the owner and Master Distiller of Pacific, to give you an in-depth look at this renowned distillery and the skilled craftsmanship behind "Pacifique" Absinthe Verte Superieur and "Voyager" Single-Batch Distilled Gin.

1. What inspired the creation of Pacific Distillery?

I created Pacific Distillery mainly because of my love of absinthe and quality spirits. I found that I could make better small batch absinthe than what was available at the time. When absinthe became legalized in the USA in 2007, I began to build Pacific Distillery.

2. What are the pros and cons of opening your own distillery? What difficulties did you encounter?

The still at Pacific Distillery
Opening your own distillery is an adventure not for the faint of heart. The myriad of federal, state, and local hoops one has to go through makes it a daunting process. The main difficulty in opening a small-scale distillery is not the actual opening of the distillery or the creation of good products - it's finding a route to bring your products to market. While there is a market for hand-crafted products, most large distributors do not want to deal with small distilleries due to their size and small marketing budget.

3. Why did you choose to produce an absinthe and a gin, rather than other spirits?

I chose gin and absinthe because those two spirits are my favorites and I have a personal history with them. I have always loved the flavor of anise and naturally gravitated towards anise-based spirits (ouzo, pastis, etc.). Also, my mother is of French extraction and I grew up loving the anise flavors she incorporated in much of the home cooking I grew up with. As for gin, my earliest memories of it were getting tiny sips of my father's gin & tonics when I was a small boy. I began to enjoy the smell and flavor of juniper. It also helped that we had juniper bushes in our yard as I grew up and l loved the smell of juniper on hot summer days.
4. What sets Pacifique Absinthe & Voyager Gin apart from the competition?

I think one of the things that sets Voyager Gin and Pacifique Absinthe apart from the competition is the dedication to craft that we bring to these spirits. Both spirits are micro-batch produced. We only make our Voyager Gin in 30 case distillation runs and Pacifique Absinthe is made in even smaller batches. Both gin and absinthe begin as an herbal/alcohol mixture that is distilled. For our spirits, we select only the best organically-grown botanicals from global sources, and our base spirit is of the purest available on the market. We also grow and incorporate a lot of our own herbs for our absinthe (wormwood, roman wormwood, hyssop and lemon balm). Recently we have received industry accolades for our work. Last year we were awarded a Gold Medal by the Beverage Testing Institute of Chicago who stated our Voyager Gin was "Exceptional". Voyager was also awarded a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2011. Pacifique Absinthe was declared one the the "Top 50 Spirits of 2010" last December by Wine Enthusiast Magazine and won a Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2011.

5. Are you currently working on any new products or planning any for the future?

We are currently working on several projects that may be released in the next few years. We are actively working on prototypes of rum, whiskey, specialty liqueurs, and perhaps an American brandy or eau-de-vie.

Enjoy Voyager Gin and Pacifique Absinthe in the Clipper Ship Cocktail, created for Pacific Distillery by Robert Hess:

2 oz Voyager Gin
1 oz St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz lime juice
1 dash Pacifique Absinthe

Shake with ice, strain into an ice-filled Old Fashioned glass, and garnish with a lime twist.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

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