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.


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