Spirited Libations: Portland’s Distillery Row

Photo © Carrie Uffindell

By Carrie Uffindell

For the first time since prohibition, independent micro-distilleries are creating high-quality artisan spirits in Southeast Portland, Oregon. Dubbed Distillery Row, these six distilleries and their tasting rooms offer more than 20 handcrafted libations. Contrary to the name, these distilleries are not in a row, but are sprinkled across several blocks. 

Eastside Distilling

Inspired by the rums he encountered in the Caribbean, owner Lenny Gotter founded Eastside Distilling (formerly Deco) in 2009. Five years later, Eastside now produces four rums (including a smooth coffee rum), two bourbons, two fruit whiskeys and a potato-based vodka. “We want to appeal to many different palates,” says master distiller Mel Heim.  eastsidedistilling.com

Vinn Distillery

Owned and operated by the Ly family, Vinn crafts rice-based spirits using legacy recipes that have been handed down through their family for at least seven generations. Their spirits include Baijiu, a traditional Chinese beverage, two styles of Chinese rice wine, and a creamy sipping vodka. New summer libations are a barrel-aged whiskey, blackberry liqueur and a lemoncello. vinndistillery.com

Rolling River Spirits 

Owners Rick, Joan, and Tim Rickard opened Rolling River’s doors to the public in May. Current spirits available are a gin and a vodka made with organic grains. In the works are a scotch-inspired whiskey and a coffee-infused vodka. Check out the tasting room’s unique wooden bar, fashioned from reclaimed mahogany by master distiller Tim. rollingriverspirits.com

House Spirits Distillery

Inspired by pre-prohibition spirits and cocktails, House Spirit’s most innovative libation is an American-style gin. “American gins helped invent the cocktail,” says Christian Krogstad, one of the distillery’s three owners. “But most were destroyed during prohibition.” Other flavorful creations include a malt whiskey and two Scandinavian-inspired aquavits. housespirits.com

Stone Barn Brandyworks

Founded by owners Erika and Sebastian Degens, Stone Barn Brandyworks produces a variety of regionally sourced fruit brandies, including a dry pear and a Northwest cherry, as well as brandy-based fruit liqueurs, rye- and oat-based whiskeys and a grappa. “We started with a love of fruit and different liqueurs inspired by season,” says Sebastian. stonebarnbrandyworks.com

New Deal Distillery 

The oldest distillery on the Row, New Deal has been producing high-quality spirits since 2004 by owner and master distiller Tom Berkleaux. His libations include a clean sipping vodka, a dry juniper-forward gin, a chocolate-infused vodka, a ginger liqueur and a variety of small-batch limited releases. Enjoy samples while admiring the building’s exposed wooden beams and gleaming copper stills. newdealdistillery.com

 For more information on tasting room locations, hours and special events—and to purchase a Distillery Row Passport, entitling you to a complimentary flight at all six distilleries—visit distilleryrowpdx.com. A carefree way to visit the Row without driving is via PDX Pedicab; they offer a special Distillery Row Tour Package at pdxpedicab.com.