Not just because they are some of the fathers of the craft distillery movement, because they are the hottest thing in liquor, or even because they are producing some of the best value in quality spirits. No, you need to know St. George Spirits because everything they touch is gold. When you come across a new product from St. George, it’s time to get very excited. I haven’t tried every one of their spirits, but I can confidently recommend them all because everything I have tried speaks so loudly to the level of quality they put out.
This is exciting. I hope you are excited. I’m excited. This is a group of artists running on all cylinders and functioning at the top of their abilities. They cover a huge portion of the liquor landscape: single malt whiskey, bourbon, agricole rum, absinthe, gin, vodka, brandy, and liqueurs. Here are just a few reasons to believe me:
- Expand your horizons - If St. George makes it then you should try it. Haven’t tried agricole rum? You are going to love it. Drink much Apple Brandy? You are about to. Absinthe? St. George made the first legal U.S. Absinthe after the ban was raised because they had already spent 11 years perfecting their product in hope that it could some day be sold.
- Learn more about what you already love - St. George’s focus is on bringing out the heart of what makes each spirit great. Love bourbon? So does St. George and they want you to appreciate the characteristics that make bourbon great without cutting any corners. You can learn a lot about a style by sitting down with St. George’s offering and thinking about what you are tasting
- Get in on a secret that is already well known - The best already know about St. George Spirits. Eleven Madison Park ends every tasting menu by setting out a full bottle of custom made apple brandy from St. George. Ask the staff at Little Branch about the brand and watch them rave. Craig Perman first introduced them to me and has been telling everyone who will listen. Trust Craig.
- Evaluate liquor stores/bars - It is a simple test. If they carry St. George Spirits then you know you are at a quality establishment. Distribution is still small, so a store/bar has to both make the effort to know about what is great in the craft spirit world and go through the trouble to acquire St. George products. The fact that they are independent also means that they don’t have a massive brand owner pushing their products through the easier to find distributors
- Find a good store/bar wherever you are - Their website has a tool that shows you where to find their products. In a new town and need to find a quality liquor store? Problem solved.
I just… I’m struggling to understand here. There really isn’t any reason to not know about St. George. The product is great. The price is great. Great great great. Yet, the only people I’ve spoken to who have even heard of the brand are the true food and spirits fanatics. To be fair, the fanatics rave about it and pull out a bottle form their special stash, which turns out great for me. But this is a brand that everyone should know about and somehow they are still relatively unknown while bourbon is blowing up everywhere.
St. George Spirits started craft distilling in 1982 - long before there was a movement or a market. Inspired by the delicious fruit in California, they are set up in Alameda. It has come to my attention that I know absolutely nothing about California because Alameda is not obscure or in the middle of nowhere. No. It’s an island across the bay from San Francisco, wedged in there right next to Oakland. So, the fact that they have an entire airplane hangar there dedicated to designing and creating their spirits mean that St. George Spirits are already huge and you have even less excuse for not knowing them.
If their product wasn’t enough, the people behind the company are great too. They are an independent distillery . Their founder, Jörg Rupf, has been sharing his secrets with other craft distillers since the beginning to help get the movement going. You can also trust their product. They are into experimenting and bringing new ideas to life, but every spirit they make is tied back to the original vision: to distill excellent raw ingredients into spirits balanced around what made those ingredients great to start.
Not sure where to start? It is hard to pick a favorite, but I’m currently in love with the apple brandy and the agricole rum . These are spirits made for sipping. If you aren’t into drinking liquors straight and neat then it might be a bit of a learning curve, but these are both great ways to start.
These spirits are also amazing for mixing. Go to the best cocktail bar in your city and asking for any drink with their favorite spirit from St. George. Deliciousness will result and bonus points that it instantly makes you sound like you know what you are talking about. You can also mix up something yourself using the recipes recommended for each spirit on the St. George’s site. Wow, that Devilish Julep sounds amazing, I feel obligated to excerpt here:
1 oz St. George California Agricole Rum 1 oz Lejay Crème de Cassis 2 slices fresh ginger 2 sprigs fresh mint 4 wedges fresh lime
This “devilish” interpretation of a classic julep won ShakeStir’s Boston cocktail competition. To make it, simply muddle ginger, lime, and one mint leaf in a Mason jar or pint glass. Fill with ice, add rum and crème de Cassis, garnish with second mint leaf.
High on my own personal todo list is the raspberry liqueur. This might be the best way to dip your toe in if you aren’t ready for the heavier options. I’ve seen the 200ml for around $15 and it clocks in at an easy 20% ABV. I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out.