When your biggest competition are Dekuyper and Bols chances are pretty good that you’ve got a product worth looking at more than once. It has been some time since my first visit to the Glaser tasting room and I’m still licking my lips over some of their offerings. As a craft distillery it can be hard to compete on the more simple spirits. White rum, vodka, tequila and even dark rum have numerous big names making excellent products. With the much higher overheads that craft distillers face they can’t compete on price on those kinds of products. Enter the flavors and liqueurs. I have seldom found a major label that does liqueurs with any kind of aplomb. Be it limoncello, creme de Cassis, or even just a simple flavored whiskey craft usually has the time and the attention to make a product worth drinking. Such is definitely the case at Glaser Distilling. This little offshoot of a Roseburg winery has 4 different liqueurs currently on offer and each of them is excellent.
In particular I want to focus on their butterscotch liqueur. Limoncello is becoming a fad and can be found in a lot of new places, you can’t swing a growler without knocking over a display of a dozen local coffee liqueurs and chocolate is equally ubiquitous. Butterscotch is something I have seldom seen outside of a college shot party.
What makes the difference here is Glaser’s attention to detail. Your typical bottom shelf butterscotch “schnapps” is a wad of fake sugar, fake flavor and sometimes fake color. A gut bomb of artificial ingredients at less than $10 a bottle. Glaser distilling makes their own butterscotch which gives this liqueur an even brown sugar flavor and an inviting brown color that can only come from a real caramelization process. The flavors are rich with the deep molasses tones and bright buttery notes.
If you’re planning a college party and someone wants to make buttery nipples a bottle of bols will do, if you need something classy to sweeten up a cocktail you can’t do any better than Glaser’s Butterscotch Liqueur.
Quite possibly one of the furthest flung points on the Portland Distillery Row, Stone Barn Brandyworks has a lot to offer. Many of their products are seasonal, using fruit and grains from around the NW when they are at their freshest. This can lead to a bit of a scarcity problem with some of their more popular bottles.
While looking for a good flavored brandy for use in some tiki cocktails I remembered their selection and made the trip over. After an hour of samples in everything from Ouzo to quince liqueur I wrapped and bought my favorites.
Among them was this gem. Using an Oat Whiskey base this liqueur pulls all the tart, sweet and tangy notes of fresh apricots into that earthy, bright base. Far better choice than an artificially flavored apricot brandy. This carries all of the color, weight and scent you could need for anything between spring and fall. At $25 for a 375ml and $35 for a 750ml this is a bargain for anyone who needs apricot flavor in a cocktail.
The only downside is that Stone Barn doesn’t distribute very widely and production is often a limitation. I checked listings and found bottles at only around 10 stores in Oregon, and only 1 outside of the Portland Metro area. Some online sales are possible but appear complicated by state limitations.
One of the flavors that I most associate with springtime is the scent of elderflower. Growing up in the high desert of New Mexico there was a time after a strong sudden rain when the morning glory that laced our little hilltop would open and wash the normally dry air with their scents. It is one of the few times I can remember the desert smelling like anything other than sand.
St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur has some of that same clean fresh scent and a delicate flavor like little petals and new grasses.
The full 750ml bottle of this liqueur is huge, with giant fluted sides like a vase. I have tried to make myself buy one in this size a number of times but my shelf sends me angry texts, “Really? SRSLY?” and I have to put it back in favor of the 375 or a couple of the 50ml size. All of their bottles have the same style to them which makes the little 50’s quite cute and perfect for a little rosewater or lavender oil when you’re done. Prices in oregon run about $4.50 for the 50ml, $19.95 for the 375 and 39.95 for the 750ml. Seeing as you need only use this one sparingly the bottle will last for quite a while.
St. Germain is a 20% ABV which puts it nicely below a lot of other mixers and keeps the alcohol flavor down.
As a nice spring cocktail I recommend something simple.
1 oz St. Germain
2 oz vodka
Pineapple chunk garnish
Using extra pineapple juice rim cocktail glass with cane sugar, pour contents into mixing glass. Stir vigorously over ice. Strain into rimmed glass and garnish with pineapple on a long pick.
I would use something like a Portland Potato or Ransom’s The Vodka which both have a flavor to them which won’t overshadow the elderflower.
Another good cocktail can be found Here. Cocktailtube has a great sour, it uses an egg white which might not perfect for everyone but it’s a good drink anyway.