Tasting and Tour at GrandTen Distilling

The copper still was massive. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I was drawn to it’s shiny, almost robot-like appearance. I could smell the faintest hints of molasses in the air, and everything is bare and pristine. I was in a liquor distillery for the first time, and I was intrigued by everything.

I’ve been to a brewery, a winery, and now I can finally say I’ve been to a distillery as well.  GrandTen Distilling is a new distillery in South Boston that crank out small batches of gin, vodka, and rum. Housed in an old iron foundry and founded by cousins, GrandTen’s operations are small and almost homey, but nonetheless hard-core. Every step, from choosing raw ingredients to bottling and labeling, is done by hand. Aside from the customary beverages, GrandTen also experiments with and produces single run spirits.

My girl friends and I had a fun night as we were treated to a private tour and tasting. Between gin, vodka, and rum, I probably drink gin the least (although it’s hard to say no to a good gin and tonic), but even I can appreciate the flagship product, Wire Works America Gin. However, I was enamored with the still-unnamed almond liquer (yes, you read that right:  almond liquer!). And I was very interested in the the Fire Puncher Vodka.

If you can expect anything from a vodka called Fire Puncher, it’s smoke and heat. And smoke and heat, it was – the Fire Puncher is infused with chipotle peppers. I tend to gravitate towards sweeter drinks, but as a spice-seeker, this vodka was supremely memorable for me and something I would love to try in a cocktail.

In its simplest form, distillation is a classical process used to separate liquids with different boiling points. The ethanol, being more volatile than water, boils first; its vapors travelling upwards towards the cooling touch of the condenser where, like the droplets on the outside of your cocktail glass, it returns to its liquid form to be captured in a bottle and called spirit.

– GrandTen Distilling, The Craft

For the tasting, we tried some of the most popular gins, then compared it to GrandTen’s Wire Works. Wire Works was clearly smoother and almost tasted lighter, without the nasty burn from other commercial brands.

Beth really loved the Fire Puncher vodka, while Erica preferred Wire Works gin. I, as usual, liked the sweetest libation of all: the almond liqueur.  I can’t wait till it’s publicly available – I already have some cocktail recipes brewing in my head.

Owners Matt Nuernberger and Spencer McMinn were very friendly and also clearly very passionate about their craft – they taught us a lot about distilling and also shared some cocktail recipes. The next one on my list would be to make The Left Bank: Wire Works American gin, white wine, and St-Germain (I once wrote a love letter to St-Germain. And then made St-Germain Pomegranate jello shots.)

Later on we made our own gin and tonics. I mixed my own, then hastily chugged it so I can try the almond cordial again. Unfortunately we didn’t get to try any rum but we’re already planning a return trip! And I hope when we come back, Matt and Spencer would’ve christened their still with a name already… (Thanks again, Spencer and Matt, for all the info, and for the tasting and tour!)

GrandTen will be ready for visitors by the end of the summer for tastings and tours, but their bottles are already available at some Boston liquor stores and served in cocktails at bars and restaurants.

Have you ever been to a liquor distillery? What’s your favorite type of cocktail? My top choices are sangria, anything with St-Germain, and tequila-based drinks and shooters.


17 Responses to “Tasting and Tour at GrandTen Distilling”

  1. #
    Michelle posted May 23, 2012 at 8:46 am

    I learned SO much when I visited the Privateer Rum Distillery. Very cool experience!

  2. #
    Daisy posted May 23, 2012 at 9:25 am

    i love the look and feel of the place the way you captured it. I can’t wait to visit.

  3. #
    Kim K posted May 23, 2012 at 9:44 am

    funfearless and i (and others) went to a tequila distillery in cozumel when we were there for my ironman. i have hated tequila all my life, but the choices there were delicious! i definitely miss the goodies i purchased (and then later drank) from there!

  4. #
    Colleen @ Culinary Colleen posted May 23, 2012 at 10:06 am

    I haven’t been to any distilleries…in fact, I didn’t realize there were any in the area! I absolutely love gin so I can’t wait to try some of theirs. I’m going to definitely check it out as soon as they open to the public!

  5. #
    Rebecca @ Miss Magnolia Munches & Moves posted May 23, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I just tried St. Germaine for the first time not too long ago and am in love! I read a recipe calling for St. Germain, champagne or prosseco, and grapefruit juice, which sounds so delicous. It will make a great Memorial Day Brunch cocktail. :)

  6. #
    Michelle Collins posted May 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    I’ve never been to a liquor distillery before, but this looks like so much fun! It’s great to know they’re opening to the public in a few months, too.

  7. #
    Beth @Sailing Foodie posted May 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Great write up Bianca! I had so much fun that night and will totally be hanging out there once it is open to the public. Who wouldn’t love Southie, we now have a Brewery and a Distillery! I may never leave :)

  8. #
    Elizabeth posted May 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I had the chance to go to Bacardi when I was in PR but I think I went to explore the Old Town instead ;) I love the bottles and labels.

  9. #
    Emily @ A Cambridge Story posted May 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Um, what a fun day?! I am a sucker for gin!

  10. #
    Meghan posted May 24, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Loved Grand Ten!
    I’ve been to Bushmill’s which is a wee bit larger, so it was fun to see the small production and high quality products produced a short walk from home!

  11. #
    David posted May 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Nice post. And I think we’ve found the location for the next company outing…

  12. #
    Erica posted May 24, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    My new favorite gin. Look at how happy I am with my bottle! True Love!
    Pretty sure Wire Works and tonic is going to be my go-to drink this summer.

  13. #
    Liz posted May 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    I loved reading this!

    I just went for a tour last night at Grand Ten and your write up was the perfect introduction to read on my way there. Fire Puncher and the almond liqueur were tied for my top picks – I can’t wait for them to have everything bottled so I can start using them at home!

  14. #
    Rhonda posted May 24, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    I have never been to a distillery before. I would love to try a chipotle vodka, it would make a great bloody mary!

  15. #
    OliePants posted May 25, 2012 at 11:11 am

    What a fun experience. As a major fan of gin, this would be a great learning experience and also who could resist the samples! :)

  16. #
    Megan posted May 25, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    I think I would be enamored with almond lacquer too.

    You know I love anything with St-Germain!

  17. #
    Molly Galler posted May 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I have been reading about all the new Massachusetts distilleries. So cool that you got a tour and to taste!

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