Washington D.C. has several craft distilleries, not to mention the significant number of distilleries in the surrounding area. Which may seem odd because here we have the nation’s capitol, where laws are made and bills are passed. Where the decision to enforce Prohibition started. So when legal distillation becomes common in and around even the nation’s capitol, it’s then you realize how awesome this country really is.
So when I found myself suddenly heading to D.C., visiting a distillery was a must. I stumbled across One-Eight Distilling. Their name originates from Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution. A section which also breaks down counterfeiting currency. This all intrigued me. Not to mention I really like their logo. It’s pretty rad.
They are located near Union Market in one of the capitol’s rare industrial sections. I pulled up on a day they were closed to the public. (Which is usually how I try and play it. I enjoy being catered to.) I was greeted by Sandy Wood, the co-founder who also happens to be an attorney.
Sandy happily explained their spirits and poured me a taste right off. Now here is the part where I explain how amazing, unique, and completely sophisticated each and every spirit was. Which is of course the case. But what I loved the most was the BALLS these two guys had. Sandy, a lawyer, and Alex Laufer, head distiller who worked in biotechnology prior. These guys ditched their jobs to fulfill their dream of making hooch. Yes, starting a business takes a SET.
Not surprisingly then, when it comes to their spirits, most of them were pretty much…experimental! And certainly not in a bad way. They produced a decent vodka, a solid gin with botanicals I have never experienced, one being Spicebush or Lindera. Spicebush is native to the D.C. area and other parts of New England thanks to its humid climate. Local herbs is always a plus.
The spirits that got me pumped was their “Untitled” line. It should have been called “Cojones line.” That’s the only way to describe them. Not only does it consist of various whiskeys with different mash bills, but even different casks. For instance…Take a Tennessee sour mash whiskey, then age it for four months in a Sandeman Tawny Port cask. This will get you “Untitled Whiskey No. 5.” With subtle chocolate notes, dried fruit and that classic sour mash mouth feel. This takes a coin-purse.
I really had to tip my hat to the 1-8 team. They nailed it. From their barrel aged gin to their rye heavy bourbon, each and every one was beyond unique.
I get passionate because there is a great deal of risk, a risk any distiller would love to take, but few do. I once read of an amateur distiller who worked at a cookie shop. This shop was throwing out hundreds of oatmeal raisin cookies. Instead of letting them see the garbage can, this guy fermented them and made an Oatmeal Raisin Whiskey! (Of course it was amazing. It was a fucking oatmeal raisin cookie. Like after school snack for adults.) These are shots most craft distillers don’t take because of the risk involved.
Now mind you, I don’t know how well One Eight Distilling is doing on the shelves, because I am located in California. (Check out their Where to Buy page for retailers that ship.) The Untitled line consists of seven aged Whiskeys along with one barrel aged gin. If you get the opportunity to taste one… please do, and take a moment to appreciate the people at One Eight Distilling with the stones! To roll-the-dice!
Brian Cary is a sky slash skin diver, image maker, former porn industry hack, muy thai heavy bag, and wannabe mixologist based in Healdsburg, CA. He moonlights as Master of Spirits Media at MicroShiner.