I’m such a sucker for compelling advertising. I can’t seem to get enough of it. I mean, as a kid on vacation with my family down in Florida I would often stay up in the hotel room, watching infomercials instead of going down to the beach with my brother and sisters. I collect junk mail. I watch the Super Bowl for the ads…and this is from an avid football fan.
Anyway, a little while back, while scrolling my Facebook feed, I saw an ad to invest in a distillery down in Utah. Being REALLY into whiskey and an ad nerd, it caught my attention right away. The minimum investment was just $250 so I thought, “Hey what the heck, I’ll do that and then I can say I am part owner of a distillery.” I thought it would be kind of a fun thing to do and be a part of.
As an “investor” I am on their mailing list which keeps me up to date on what those guys are up, news about the distillery, product releases, and more. A few weeks ago I got an email letting me know that they were opening the distillery up for tours and tastings. I signed on right away.
This past weekend my brother-in-law and I made the 5-1/2 hour drive down to Clear Water Distilling Co. in Pleasant Grove, Utah to do the tour. We arrived Friday afternoon and had the tour scheduled for 6pm that evening. The distillery is located in a warehouse in a group of warehouses that look relatively newly built. As we walked in, the distinct smell of distilled spirits gently wafted through our olfactory system. It was a very pleasant smell.
The interior was bright and clean. One room leading to the warehouse serves as a tasting room and the interior design is reminiscent of an old school apothecary. Plush chairs, velvet on the walls, and ornate furniture made the room feel cozy and inviting.
The distillery area itself was also clean and antiseptic. That they cared a great deal about contaminations was reassuring. The equipment they had purchased was second-hand, but gleamingly clean and bright. It looked brand new except for a few dents here and there that indicated some age. It was modern and well-maintained though.
Nick and James, two of Clear Water’s employees, led us on the tour with Nick doing most of the heavy lifting in describing their process for distilling spirits. The company motto is “Be Defiantly Different” and it is clear they mean just what they say with the spirits they are distilling. Their “icon” line features a unique array of spirits that don’t quite fit into any established category. Each one is named after important - though lesser known - historical figures that you have probably never heard of, but should know.
This spirit is their eau de vie and is a veritable blend of different fruits, molasses, and wine, then aged lightly in toasted oak barrels. It was surprisingly refreshing, with notes of apple, pear, and honeysuckle. I’m a fan of brandy and cognac, and this spirit was every bit as good as some of the best stuff I’ve had.
It was affectionately named after Josephine Baker, a world-renowned entertainer, World War II spy, and civil rights activist. The spirit Josephine is just as layered and intricate as her namesake.
Named for famed Danish explorer, Lorenz Freuchen, this crafted spirit is just as bold in both form and function. It was described to us as a “cinnamon rum” although because of how it is distilled, cannot legally be called a rum. Through the distillation process it is processed through both cinnamon and vanilla which gives it a decidedly dessert-like flavor, reminiscent of homemade apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
I’m not generally a fan of flavored spirits, but the Lorenz was so artfully done that I would definitely make space for it in my liquor cabinet.
Rene is the newest release and not much about it is found on their website as of yet. I should have paid more attention to Nick’s explanation about who it is named after, but what I did pay attention to was the flavor and taste of Rene.
It is a blend of rye whiskey and Armagnac brandy and was absolutely delicious. I never would have dreamed those two flavors combined would produce something so unique and tasty, but they did. It was a perfect marriage of the spiciness from the rye and the sweetness from the Armagnac.
In addition to the Icon line, Clear Water is also bottling some sourced offerings, such as their 14-year light whiskey and a delicious 5-year old rye. I’m 99.99% sure that the rye is being sourced MGP (the label on the bottle says, “Distilled in Indiana…” which is a dead giveaway.)
I have no issues with that, however. Some purists may, but the number rule in my book is simply whether I like it or not and I genuinely like both of those. In fact, I liked the rye so much that I bought a bottle to bring home with me.
Anyway, the weekend was a great success and we had a blast. Nick and James were perfect hosts (James even drove us to the restaurant we were going to so we’d save the Uber fare) and couldn’t have made our experience any better.
In full disclosure, as I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I own stock in the company and have a vested interest in its success. My enthusiasm for what they are doing is genuine, however. To be perfectly frank, I went into this with really low expectations. I wasn’t expecting their spirits to be as good as they are. I hope that Matt and the team can forgive me for this, because after having a taste, my opinion is firmly in the camp of “This stuff is delicious!”
Give them a try if you can and let me know what you think.