A tour of Artisan Spirits

Artisan Spirits
Artisan Spirits is Portland’s newest distillery, producing hand crafted liquors in a large close-in Southeast Portland garage, at the northern end of Portland’s burgeoning “Distiller’s District.” I first heard about Artisan Spirits last April, when Berkeley based wine writer Tim “Blind Muscat” Patterson mentioned the “distillery-in-the-making” in a blog post; Walking / Drinking Tour of Portland.

Admirably, Artisan Spirits is committed to handcrafting unique, high-quality liquors from scratch using locally sourced ingredients, lowering both fuel consumption and pollution output, while keeping money in the local economy.

And they held an open house on Saturday.

Heather and I made our way out to Southeast 12th and Stark around 2pm. Artisan Spirits occupies a nondescript garage around the corner from Food Fight. The interior is sparse. But for the open house caterers were brought in and the crowd followed.

This, and all the photos in this post courtesy of Mile73.com‘s Heather – thanks Heather!

Free samples of Artisan Spirits’ two currently available vodkas were proffered upon arrival, but cocktails were available too.

You probably noticed that huge orange water bed mattress in the first photo above. And you are probably wondering what the heck it is. That, my friends, is 5000 gallons (down from 6000) of Columbia Valley Syrah.

Presently Artisan Spirits produces two vodkas, Martin Ryan Handmade Vodka, distilled from the syrah in that huge bladder, and Apia Artisan Vodka, distilled from Oregon honey wine. There are plans afoot to eventually produce gin and maybe even absinthe.

One of the three co-owners of Artisan Spirits, Shane Thatcher, gave us a quick tour of the facilities. You’ve met the huge wine bladder above. Below are the tanks wherein the mead (technically a braggot because of the use of a small amount of malt) is brewed. This honey wine is then distilled to make Apia.

I couldn’t hope to relate (or even remember) Shane’s thumbnail sketch of the process. I do know, however, that these are the stills:

I picked up a bottle of the Apia, signed by the three co-owners of Artisan Spirits, to take home. As I mentioned, I’m not much of a vodka drinker, but the Apia is smooth and slightly sweet and fruity, and just the thing to sip on a cool crisp fall day as one blogs about a trip to a distillery.

Both Martin Ryan and Apia are available at local bars and restaurants, and at Oregon liquor stores.


  1. I checked this out too! The cocktails on offer were pretty tasty as well.

  2. Markovitch – When did you get there? There are a couple more upcoming distillery open houses I’m looking forward to checking out: New Deal on November 15th, and Highball Distillery on the 22nd.

  3. Linda Honey says:

    How can I get a bottle of the Apia Artisan Vodka? I live in San Diego, CA.

  4. Linda – I’d recommend checking with a local liquor specialty shop, maybe they can special order it?

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