On Saturday, Matthew and I took a little road trip down to Columbus for a tour and tasting at Watershed Distillery. We were already fans of Watershed vodka, so the chance to try more of their spirits with some fellow Cleveland bloggers was a big enough carrot to warrant a drive down 71 South.
We were greeted at Watershed with a punch made from apple brandy, bourbon-barrel gin, bitters, lemon, and bubbles. The drink was clean, crisp, and nice balance of sweet and bitter flavors. And we got to enjoy at the lovely bar in Watershed’s Kitchen & Bar.
Next up was a tour of Watershed’s distillery, which is founded in the idea that success requires hard work and that those who enjoy success should give back to the community. In fact, the name Watershed is the company’s shorthand for community and that theme extends throughout Watershed and into the surrounding community.
Watershed’s production facility is impressive and designed to create the highest-quality spirits.
Watershed uses corn and apples as the base for their vodka and those ingredients are sourced from Ohio. We got to sample the vodka; four-peel gin, which uses lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange peels for a more citrus-forward gin; and the distillery-exclusive Guild Series gin, which was finished with chamomile.
My favorite of these was the four-peel gin, which has a light, citrus taste that made it more palatable to me than most gins.
We also got to sample Watershed’s barrel-aged spirits: bourbon-barrel gin, bourbon, old fashioned (basically the classic cocktail in a one-step pour), and apple brandy.
I might have to take back everything I ever said about bourbon, because I drank this one straight and actually liked it! Oh, and the apples for the apple brandy come from a farm near Cleveland, so I think we’re obligated to drink a lot of it!
After the tour of the distillery and tasting the spirits straight (including the amazing Nocino, which reminds me of a spiced wine liquor), it was time for some snacks and a cocktail demonstration.
Watershed’s Kitchen & Bar cocktail menu changes seasonally. Currently, the menu is creatively modeled on an IKEA catalog, down to the elements you need to create the drink, fun illustrations, and Scandinavian translations.
The current Watershed cocktails are designed to be clean and minimalist, following the Scandinavian IKEA concept. Rather than garnishing the glass with fruit, which creates a lot of waste, Watershed makes sprays of the various fruits to mist over the drinks when they are finished.
I enjoyed all three of the cocktails we got to sample, but my favorite was the Stock Home Syndrome, made with apple brandy, lemon, orgeat, and allspice dram, with a mist of Laphroaig. The drink is modeled after a late fall day and smelling leaves burning and it hits all the right notes!
The snacks from the Kitchen were delicious too!
We enjoyed fried Brussel sprouts with black pepper honey, lemon, and mint; pork rinds with malt vinegar, Parmesan, and fermented hot sauce; crispy fingerling potatoes with roasted garlic, Parmesan, and rosemary aioli; and braised meatballs with stewed tomatoes, mixed grains, and cabbage.
All of the food felt comforting and familiar, but also with enough of a twist to make it interesting. The Kitchen menu changes frequently, but you can check out a sample here.
If you’re down in Columbus, stop in to either the Kitchen & Bar for a drink and bite or take a tour of the Distillery (or both)! And the next time you’re shopping for spirits for a party, a gift, or just your average Tuesday, remember this carefully-crafted, incredibly-delicious, locally-committed company!
***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary tour and tasting at Watershed Distillery with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***