Heads, Hearts and Tails
That sounds like a casino, or at least a card game of some sort! But no, these are terms used in the distilling process which I am starting to get a handle on!
Yesterday, a beautiful spring day, Susan and I headed down to Hoodsport on the Hood Canal, over an hour from here. I have had the idea of doing a sort of round-up on the craft distillers that are popping up all over the place. When I was with Harbors, I did my first distillery article about the San Juan Islands Distillery which was so much fun and a real eye-opener for me. It almost spoiled my taste for gin, because it is SO good and I had been drinking plonk. Then last fall, when Ryan was visiting, we went to the Seattle Distilling Company on Vashon Island and the idea was born.
Hoodsport is a cute little town on the Hood Canal and perfect distance for a day trip. We arrived just after The Hardware Distillery Company opened. It is located in an old hardware store on the main street. The building is charming, completely renovated, with spring daffodils and tulips in the flower boxes on the porch. Inside, we were greeted by Jan Morris, who owns the distillery with her husband Chuck, who we met as we were leaving. He was unloading frozen plums from a local supplier, no doubt to create a new batch of Bee’s Knees Plumb.
Although it was before noon, we did a fair bit of tasting and I, of course, loved both gins they create. I especially liked the one called R, which has a slightly smoky taste, imparted by the barley that is smoked in the oyster smoker at the Hamma Hamma Oyster Company. R Gin is named for the old wives’ tale about shell fish being better in the months with an R!
The Hardware Distilling Company also makes an absolutely delicious Apple Brandy and a whiskey which of course, I tried, even though whiskey isn’t my favorite. But this one could change my mind about that. Jan and Chuck have a Scottish adviser, so although it can’t be called Scotch, it is smooth and creamy in the Scotch tradition. The smell reminds me of Dad! Scotch was his drink of choice.
I love the labeling on all the products and come to find out that Jan is an artist and is using her watercolors for her labels. She teaches watercolor painting in the area, although I have no idea how she fits it in with all her involvement with the the distillery.
Jan gave us a tour of the distilling area, with details about how the process works. It really is fascinating and the Hoga stills are so beautiful, all graceful curves and pounded copper! We were able to smell some of the tails (the tail end of the distilling process) which sometimes retain some of the aromas of the ingredients, like the cardamom Jan was using in one of their Aquavits.
By this time, the tasting room was starting to get busy, with several tasters lined up at the bar. I was happy we had arrived early and were able to have a tour to understand more about the distilling process, all part of the learning curve leading to writing the article I have in mind. With a few “souvenirs” to savor later, we wandered along the main street, checking out the little stores popping up and enjoying a great cup of coffee at the Hoodsport Coffee Company before heading home.