House Spirits Distillery
One of the early sparks that set off the firestorm of new school craft distilleries was the creation of House Spirits Distillery in 2004 in Corvallis, Oregon, and move the next year to what is now dubbed Distillery Row in southeast Portland. Today co-founder Christian Krogstad, spirits savant Ryan Magarian, and stillmasters Matt Mount, Colin Howard, and Erich Fisher have become mainstays of the Northwest spirits renaissance.
Their flagship product is Aviation Gin, one of the first of the so-called American-style gins—though it is made in a Dutch Genever-inspired style that had been out of fashion on these shores. Distinctly richer and bolder in flavor than many of the mass-produced gins, Aviation uses, among other ingredients, juniper, cardamom, coriander, lavender, anise, sarsaparilla, and dried orange peel.
Perhaps the most distinctive product they make is the Krogstad Aquavit, created out of respect for Christian’s Scandinavian roots. One of the first (perhaps the first) domestic aquavit, Krogstad uses the traditional formulation of star anise and caraway seed to create a bold but well-balanced spirit that when consumed ice cold is a wonderful accompaniment to food, a flavorful mixer, or as a bracing shot.
The Limited Release Line is a specialty collection of House Spirits small-batch products that reflect the diversity of the distillery’s skills. So far this specialty line has consisted of Oregon Ouzo, a couple of different rums, two rice-based shochus, a number of white dogs (unaged whiskey) and aged whiskies, a Hungarian-style unaged plum brandy (called Palinka), a coffee liqueur, and perhaps most interesting of all, a barrel-aged aquavit called Gammal Krogstad.
From the May/June 2011 issue