It’s 10:00 am on a Tuesday morning, 25° outside with a 30% chance of snow. I’m sitting in my car outside the Boston Harbor Distillery watching planes land over my head while I wait for my crew to show up. It’s their day off so I’m not totally surprised that they are dragging. We are here to do a tour and a tasting with Mark Sampson, VP of Sales. Mark has been in our store several times mixing up cocktail samples for our customers. He’s an enthusiastic ambassador for the brand and proves to be a gracious host.
Located in Dorchester overlooking the harbor, the Distillery was started by Craft Beer Legend, Rhonda Kallman in 2015 with a view to upping the ante on the local scene with a space dedicated to touring, tasting, education and events at the site of a true New England spirit still.
The boys have texted. They are lost so I go in and meet up with Mark and am introduced to Tupper, who is clearly in charge of PR.
The building is gorgeous. Built in 1855, it was previously occupied by early entrepreneurs Silas S. Putnam, George Lawley and Son Shipbuilders and Seymour’s Ice Cream. With a nod to the past, BHD has named some of their spirits after its former occupants, which is a nice touch and just plain good chi. Mark brews me a coffee and spikes it with some Seymour’s Boston Cream Liqueur. There are worse ways to wake up.
Aged, craggy brick walls, 40 ft high vaulted ceilings and windows everywhere create an industrial cathedral-like space. Light streaks in from the sky in spite of the clouds as Todd, Dave and Phil find the front door. Rhonda and her husband did a ton of work bringing the space up to their standard including reinforcing the walls and sanding layers of paint off beams to expose the natural wood and the results have paid off. There is a lounge area with comfortable seating, a copper topped bar and a smaller room for more intimate gatherings featuring some beautiful archival maps of Boston. It’s an incredible space for a party.
But the real show is behind the far glass wall where the product is made. BHD is blessed by the talents of Master Distiller John Couchot, who’s interest in beer drinking at the age of 15 inspired him to start brewing his own. By his freshman year of college he had built his first still. In addition to his history at Rogue Ales in Oregon, John has partnered with various brands to create new beers as well as brewing sakes, ciders and meads. He makes all the recipes for BHD. His list of accolades and awards is long. John is in the distillery this morning, busy behind the glass checking equipment and watching one of his concoctions in process.
Being the wine person, I let the boys lead the discussion as they are much more versed in the art of whiskeying. Mark has actual samples of the grains they use and takes us through the line.
The Putnam New England Rye Whiskey is a familiar friend as we sell a lot of it in the store. Spicy on the nose, the palate has apple and vanilla with an earthy finish.
Made with molasses and Ackermann Grade B Maple Syrup, Lawley’s New England Spirit is a rum inspired tribute to George Lawley and his legendary yachts. The molasses and maple are evident in the nose and on the palate. Very drinkable.
Lawley’s Dark New England Spirit is the original aged in American Oak. The hue is much darker, the palate full of toffee, cinnamon and caramel.
Seymour’s Local Roast Coffee Liqueur is a perennial favorite at Liquor World. A great alternative to the standard coffee flavored pours, this one actually tastes like coffee.
BHD has a very cool collaboration going with Sam Adams featuring whiskeys made from stouts and tripels.
The 13th Hour Stout is the most traditional of the line with cacao and banana on the nose, dark roast coffee whiskey on the palate and a lingering finish.
We taste the New World Belgium Tripel. All I get is nutmeg and I am not complaining. Rich and malty, sweet and savory with some tannins on the finish.
The Merry Maker is super spicy. Did I say nutmeg? That and then some. Cinnamon, gingerbread cookie, vanilla spice. A great holiday blend.
We also got to taste one not yet released. Made from black lager, this one is minty, spicy with anise and fennel notes.
As our morning comes to an end, Mark sends us on our way with a dessert shot of Seymour’s Boston Cream Liqueur. Just think Boston Cream Pie. Put it in your coffee, serve it over ice, put in on dog food. You can’t go wrong.