Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Sheffield, MA

 

Berkshire Mountain Distillers was established in 2007. They create award winning spirits in small batches in Sheffield, MA. This is a fairly new facility for them, and quite large. We weren’t familiar with them, but stopped on our way to Big Elm Brewing, also in Sheffield, MA.

 

 

They have a decent sized tasting room. The shop area and bar are in one big room right when you walk in. They have tables inside if you want to sit down, and also have tables outside for nicer weather visits.

 

They do tours but we chose to not partake

 

The bar was really crowded when we got there. There was a group on a bus and there were people waiting to go on the tour. By the time we were done sampling the bar had emptied out.

 

 

We did not take as extensive notes as we usually do while tasting because the bar was crowded and we were trying to sample.

 

Whiskeys
They make a Gold Medal winning Bourbon Whiskey and well as a New England Corn Whiskey.

 

 

What was a little more unique was their line of cask aged whiskeys. They use barrels that had beer in them and put the already oak aged whiskey in the casks. They use barrels from breweries around the country, Sam Adams Utopias barrels, barrels from Ommegang, Hale’s Ales, Two Roads, Troegs and more.

Megan enjoyed trying the different cask aged whiskey. They started the same, but the way the flavor changed was so unique with each different barrel.

 

 

 

Gin
They have their regular line of Greylock Gin that was good.

But again, their more interesting and unique batches  we liked a lot. They basically have a rotating line of Ethereal Gin, made with different botanicals for each batch and season. Some of the botanicals they grow on their site. We tried a few of these and they were really good, the extra ingredients made these interesting and complex. They also had a Sam Adams Utopias cask gin.

 

 

 

 

They also have another smaller bar where they make mixed drinks to sell. We both got whiskey sours and took them outside. It was pretty nice out when we were there in late October.

 

They had corn hole set up outside, and a few tables with umbrellas.

 

 

They have some small gardens outside where they grow some
of the botanicals that they use in their spirits and gin.

 

 

Hours

Check Facebook or their website for updated hours, it looks
like their hours change seasonally.

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Tree Spirits Winery & Distillery, Oakland, ME

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On a recent trip through Maine to the Bangor area, we stopped at Tree Spirits Winery & Distillery, located in Oakland, ME. They have a nice little shop with a bar and stools for a tasting area.

 

Owner Bruce Olsen has been making wine since 1977. Around 2009 he began experimenting with distilling his wines to make Brandy and other spirits. In 2012 they expanded the business and their offerings.

 

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There were two tastings available, with and without Absinthe. Each tasting included 5 offerings of your choice.

Our tastings:

Pear Extra Dry
Sparkling wine, a little dry with a subtle pear taste.

Apple Picnic Wine
Light, crisp, not too dry but not too sweet. Perfect.

 

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Apple Extra Dry
Lots of fizz and sparkle. Sweet with apple taste, they say ‘delicious and crisp’, we agree! We went home with a bottle of this one.

Pom Sublime
Very sweet and juice like. Originally developed as a mixer, but some people liked it so much people do both with it, use it as a mixer and drink it straight. Definitely a fun summer drink mixer. We bought a bottle, will probably do both with it. Made with their Applejack, pomegranate juice, lime juice, ginger bitters.

 

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Maple Storm
Blend of their Maple Wine and Knotted Maple Spirits. Interesting maple flavor, Megan said sweet like syrup. Has a good taste, that sugary taste with a bite of booze, we both liked it, and bought 2 bottles.

 

Applejack
This is made as essentially a type of Brandy, though it can not be called Brandy because Brandy has to be distilled from grape wine. It was originally made it clear, but people didn’t want Brandy that was clear, they expected it to be brownish. They started barrel aging it for 2 months just to give it that color. We actually like the clear, unaged version better. Smelled and tasted a little bit more fruity.

 

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Maple Jack L- finished product, R- before being barrel aged

 

Knotty Maple – 80 proof
Strong alcohol taste with a light maple finish. It has a good taste, not too sweet which is good. It is basically a brandy, but not distilled from a grape made wine.

 

Absinthe Verte – 130 proof
The only asbinthe produced in New England, and one of only a few produced in the US.  They start with their Applejack and use organic herbs — anise, fennel, wormwood, petite wormwood, hyssop and lemon balm. Megan tasted this, very strong straight. It was then mixed  with sugar water for us and it was much tastier then.

 

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The owner was the one serving us, and was very welcoming and knowledgeable, of course. He told us a lot about the spirits and wines, the process and the story behind them. He was a good storyteller, which made the tasting not only tasty, but informative and fun.

 

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With their set up, it is easier to create more spirits than wines.

 

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Still in the back room.

 

 

Want to visit?
Hours
Wednesday – Saturday: 12:00 – 5:30

As always, check Facebook or their website for updated hours. Hours may
be different during the winter

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Other Places Nearby:

Dragonfly Farm and Winery, Stetson, ME

Oak Pond Brewing Company, Skowhegan, ME

The Liberal Cup Public House and Brewing Company, Hallowell, ME

 

Sons of Liberty Spirits Company, South Kingstown RI

We have to expand our goal now to include the state of Rhode Island. Megan’s sister Sam’s boyfriend Dustin lives in Newport and there are several places right there. Well, everything is close in Rhode Island (true story. Megan went to school down there).

We had Sam and Dustin show us the “local” places…

Our first stop- Son’s of Liberty Spirits Company. Sam and Dustin had been there before, and really enjoyed the tour and tasting. Hence, our first Rhode Island stop.

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 One of the reasons they started Sons of Liberty was to make good whiskey that other people aren’t making. They started the tour off by saying ‘What do you think of when I say American whiskey?’ Most people think of bourbons and Tennesee whiskey.

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Then he says ‘What do you think of when I say single malt whiskey?’ Most people think of Scotch, made in Scotland of course. ‘So why don’t American whiskey companies make single malt scotch?’ Well, Sons of Liberty does, and it’s really good. And they pose for pictures.

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Another question they had when they started thier distillery is why don’t people make seasonal whiskey? Some places make flavored whiskey, mostly honey, but why not make seasonal whiskey like seasonal beers. When we were their they had a Summer Hopped Whiskey and a fall Pumpkin Spiced Whiskey, which won the American Distilling Institutes’ world’s best flavored whiskey.

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 In order to make whiskey you have to make a distillers beer first. We didn’t know that! Then you distill it into whiskey.

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Distillers beer in the tank

 

All the distillers beer start with the same grains and then you add different malts.

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4 tanks of distillers beer

There are no hops used in distillers beers, they are added later.

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the still

Distilling too high strips the flavor, a lower distilling point keeps the beer flavor.

 

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Lots of inspirational t-shirts

They use mostly the heart of the whiskey. This is mostly what comes out in the middle of the distilling process. They put the heart of the whiskey in stainless steel barrels with a ton of oak staves from the barrels. This kick starts the barrel flavoring process. All sides of the oak now touch the whiskey instead of just one side. Then they barrel age the whiskey for a shorter period of time.

 

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Uprising
American Single Malt Whiskey born from a stout beer
This has a smokey and oakey flavor, really good, really smooth taste. Mark bought a bottle and shared it with several people, including an expensive scotch drinker, and he really liked it as well.

 

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Battle Cry
American Single Malt Whiskey born from a belgium beer
Smoother but less smokey and oakey. Megan like this better, less of a harsh taste to her

 

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Pumpkin Spice Flavored Whiskey – Fall Seasonal Release
Pumpkin spiced, not overbearing flavor, generally favorable among us. Sam wanted a little more pumpkin flavor. This didn’t hold up quite as well against the first two because they were so good, thought Mark. Won the World’s Best Flavored Whiskey by Whiskey Magazine.

 

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Hop Flavored Whiskey – Summer Seasonal Release
Born from an IPA
Not as flavorful, Sam liked it. Mark was really excited for this one, but same as the one above. The taste just didn’t quite compare to Uprising and Battle Cry because they were so good.

 

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Loyal 9 Vodka
Really smooth, really good, not much flavor but no bite at all. They say they distill it 99 times because they just keep sending it through the still over and over again.

 

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Loyal 9 Vodka – Mint Cucumber
First Seasonal Vodka – Summer Release
More mint than cucumber, very interesting flavor. Good for a mojito.

 

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Loyal 9 Vodka – Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean
Winter Seasonal Release
Good flavor. Mix with coffee syrup and whole milk

 

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The bartender wasn’t talking a lot, there were about 30 people at the bar tasting so he was really busy. When we did asked questions he answered them and gave us lots of info.

 

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Tours & Tastings

$10 Includes Tasting Glass

Saturdays every half hour between 12 and 3:30pm
Fridays 4:30-7:30pm (Self-guided tours)

Apple Brandy is making a comeback…

Wall Street Journal article about Apple Brandy

If only they had tried New England’s local brandy, from a place we have visited- Flag Hill Winery and Distillery. Their Josiah Bartlett Barrel Aged Apple Brandy, which has won a Gold Medal at the American Distilling Convention is perfect! In the mood for a more dessert inspired take on brandy, try their pommeau. 

 

 

 

6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival at Mount Snow in Dover, Vermont

100_0734Last weekend, Mark and I went to Vermont for the 6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival, located at Mount Snow in Dover, Vermont.

We played tourists for the weekend, visited a couple of breweries and a winery, saw the beginning of fall foliage and went camping. 100_0741
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We started our weekend early, heading over Friday morning. We arrived around 1pm, and started our weekend off with a quick chat and tasting at Northshire Brewing. Look here next week for a review and photos! We followed the beer with more beer (and lunch) at Madison Brewing Company, a brewpub. Look here next week for a review and photos!

We then checked into the campground, and went out on the pond for a little bit. 100_0653  100_0646 We followed paddle-boating with a dinner cooked over the fire and watched the fire glow… 100_0654  100_0672 100_0684  100_0683  100_0682

The next morning, Saturday, was the day of the 6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival. After making a quick breakfast of bagels toasted over the fire, we set off for a fun and alcohol filled day.

When we arrived at Mount Snow, we (at first) went the wrong way. Although our GPS was giving us the correct directions, even once we were on the Mount Snow property, we tried to follow the signs to determine where to park. Unfortunately, it was a breezy day, and some of the signs had turned around, misdirecting us. Luckily, the hotel valet directed us the correct way (as our GPS had been telling us to do haha). 100_0717After we found parking, we checked in and proceeded to have our IDs checked. After receiving our “over 21” bracelets and a stamp stating we had paid, we proceeded to get our wine glasses, grab bags and 3 tasting tickets a piece.100_0718  100_0729

We decided to walk around the two large tents before really stopping to taste anything. There were wineries, cider, cheese farms, and distilleries, places sampling jam, pickles and candy…

Oh, a note on the tastes. Each taste cost 1 ticket. A size of a taste varied table to table, some saying it was 1 ticket per pour, others 1 for all they were offering, and others, 2 tickets for all that they were offering. We were not able to try all of the wineries, but were able to try most and didn’t spend too too much on extra tickets (about $13).

Many of our stops at the festival:

Grafton Village Cheese:

We tried:

  • 3 year cheddar (bought)
  • 5 year cheddar
  • Maple Smoked Cheddar (very dry, but good!)
  • Leyden- English style cheese. Really good!

All of their cheese was very delicious! Would have loved to go home with more- will look into buying at least another block next time we are in Vermont. One of the really great things about the Grafton Village Cheese table, besides all of the delicious cheese, is that although this was one of the first tables we went to, they remembered us at the end of our day, when we went back to make a purchase. Something as small as that gesture of remembering really helps make a difference.

Newhall Maple Syrup:

Woodfired, grade A maple syrup

Really good, nice, sweet and thick

Newhall also made a cider, and had it paired with two other small orchards for a tasting:

we tried them in the following order, from lowest to highest in both alcohol and acidity

  • Windfall Orchards Ice Cider- 30 different varieties of apples go into the making of. 9% ABV. Great with dessert or cheese
  • Eden Heirloom Blend-10 different varieties of apples, 10% ABV. Goes well with dried meats
  • Newhall Ice Cider-Won a double gold metal. 12% ABV.

We both liked all three, for different reasons. Each one was unique.

Caledonia Spirits and Winery

All products are made from honey

I was very excited about this brand, due in part to the “Barr” name of two of their products.

Our tasting:

  • Barr Hill Vodka- not harsh, slight honey flavor
  • Barr Hill Gin- honey more powerful here. A sipping gin. Although I am not a gin drinker, i enjoyed this.
  • Elderberry Cordial- really good! Would be great as an after dinner drink or mixed with Prosecco 100_0722  100_0719  100_0721  100_0720

Whistlepig Straight Rye Whiskey

100 proof. Highest rated whiskey, 96 points. Good taste, but pricey. I found out after the festival that Whistlepig is not made in Vemont as we were made to think (all the others were Vermont made). I was disappointed in this. I did, however, find out that the distiller who makes this used to work for Maker’s Mark, which could be why I enjoyed it.

Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company

Tried:

  • Lille- thicker than Brie. Really good! Great flavor
  • Governor’s Cheddar- good, dry cheddar

Mad River Distillers

  • Maple Finish Rum- tastes like whiskey to me (which in later discussions with a distiller I know, I found was actually the oak barrel taste that I associate with whiskey). The maple syrup is aged in bourbon barrels.Good flavor
  • First Run Rum- good mixer
  • Chocolate Rye- nice, spiced, smooth100_0723

Vermont Distillers

  • Metcalf’s Raspberry Liqueur- good, tastes like raspberry jam. Would be great added to other drinks, or even a splash in sprite
  • Metcalf’s Vermont Maple Liqueur- Really good. Mark said it could be his new skiing coffee mixer.

 

100_0724 100_0761 We stopped by their tasting room at Hogback Mountain Scenic Overlook on the ride home, but they were not present. We assumed their staff was at the festival.

Vermont Spirits

  • Vermont Gold Vodka- not too much of a burn. Distilled from maple syrup.
  • No 14 Bourbon Whiskey- Mark really liked; they suggested adding water to a glass of whiskey to make the flavors open up

Mother Myrik’s Confectionary

Had their Buttercrunch to sample. Really delicious! It is handmade and made with Cabot Creamery butter.

 

Saxtons River Distillery

  • Vermont Maple Liqueur- good, although somewhat harsh going down
  • Vermont Maple Bourbon Whiskey- Mark tried, he said it was good, but “weird” because the maple flavor is different
  • Perc Coffee Liqueur- tastes just like coffee

Comment made by Mark:

“There’s a lot of maple and cider stuff in Vermont.”

Everywhere we looked, there was maple flavored stuff or cider!

Shelburne Vineyard

Tasting:

  • Louise Swenson- driest of the whites. Not too dry, it had a nice pucker to it
  • Riesling- Mark “that’s good.” Me- dry Riesling, not typical for me.
  • Lakeview White- semidry blend
  • Marquette- dry red. Hybrid grape with pinot noir. I actually liked this one, which surprised me. Mark also enjoyed.
  • Harvest Widows Revenge- semisweet red. Best served chilled. Mark and I really enjoyed.

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North Branch Vineyard

Tasting:

  • Frontenac Gris- dry white. Nice flavor to it, white peach and citrus. Liked it!
  • Miss Maeve- red raspberries. Not strong raspberry flavor, dry rose. Not sweet like you would expect.
  • Traminette- semidry. Similar to a dry Riesling. Rose petal and grapefruit. Mark liked.
  • Lacrescent- semisweet. Intense sweet apricot. Liked it, it is a different flavor
  • Marquette- oaked. Dry, black pepper and cherries. Like it, sweet, although it doesn’t intend to be.
  • Marechal Foch- dry blackberries. We both actually enjoyed this wine, although we tend to not like dry wines (guess our tastes are changing!)

Comment by Mark:

“I think we’re spoiled by Lukes.”

Lukes Liquors, located on the South Shore of Massachusetts in Rockland, hosting a wine tasting twice a year. The cost is $5, and for that price you get a wine glass, booklet, pen, small bites, and the opportunity to taste more than 100 different wineries.

Fresh Tracks Farm

We had to pick 3 each to try

  • American White- Mark tried, it was alright
  • Vermont Rose- I tried, it was ok
  • Vermont Apple Wine- semidry, juicy apple juice front. Refreshing finish. Good apple wine- you don’t see many apple wines that aren’t ice wines, so it makes it to be a more affordable way to enjoy
  • 2011 La Crescent- Mark enjoyed, and later went back for a larger sample (1 ticket for a larger pour)
  • 2011 Frontenac Gris- I tried and really enjoyed. Good amount of sweetness. I went back for a larger sample later.

Crowley Cheese

Had to try this cheese due to it being a family name.

  • Unusually Sharp- soooo good!
  • Chive- really good!

Yum! Understood the high prices, but would have purchased if it were less expensive for what they had left when we got there100_0638 100_0730

Whetstone Ciderworks

Told us their ciders were as “dry as any other cider on the market” and “a food friendly product.”

Our tasting:

  • Orchard Queen- dry, crisp, refreshing
  • Barnyard Blend- more rustic, English Farmhouse style. I enjoyed this one more than the Orchard Queen
  • Orchard King- most carbonated of all. Mark enjoyed
  • Whetstone Reserve- a different flavor. Mark enjoyed

Grandview Winery

Our tasting:

  • Pear Wine- Eastern States Wine Convention “double gold” and “best in show.” We both thought it was really good
  • Cranberry Wine- Ok, have had other cranberry wines that I have enjoyed more (such as those from Plymouth MA!)
  • Mac Jack Hard Cider- fresh grown Vermont apples, carbonated
  • Strawberry Rhubarb- nose picks up strawberry, then mouth picks up rhubarb
  • Raspberry Apple Wine- great nose. Nice and refreshing. Great combination. This is the bottle we left with, which was enjoyed with our Grafton Village 3 year Cheddar Cheese by the campfire.

On Sunday, we packed up and set off towards home mid-morning, making a stop on the way at Honora Winery. Look for that post soon!

Want to go to the 7th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival? Look here for more information as the time gets closer.

Due to the nature of our visit (it being a festival), there is not a huge amount of detail for many of the wineries. Since it was a festival, they are all still on our list to visit.

 

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Sea Hagg Distillery, Hampton NH

I had wanted to hold off on writing this entry until their Strawberry Rum was out… Mark suggested that we go back for their Strawberry Rum and add to our information then, but it isn’t ready yet and I’m getting antsy! I will add to this entry once we are able to pick some up.

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sign out front

picstitch (37)Display out by their tasting bar

picstitch (39)Rug in the back room (the distillery area)

We visited Sea Hagg Distillery, located in Hampton NH, as part of the Granite State Growler Tour. Sea Hagg Distillery was the only distillery on the tour.

picstitch (38)When we entered Sea Hagg Distillery, we were greeted by Ron with a delicious mixed shot-sized drink- mango lemonade mixed with their blueberry rum. Really good! Not too sweet, but a nice summer-y drink! After another sample, this time Amber Rum, we went out back to see the distillery and hear about the company.

picstitch (31)picstitch (32)their traditional copper alembic pot still

Sea Hagg Distillery is considered to be a craft distillery, producing small batch artisan spirits that are made from start to finish on site. Sea Hagg Distillery produces both rum and fruit brandy, as well as eau-de-vie. All of their products are made using either fruit from local farmers or sugarcane molasses grown in the USA.

Did you know that producing rum and other spirits used to be labeled as a “women’s job”? Well, Sea Hagg Distillery is taking that label and running with it- it is women owned and operated. The idea of Sea Hagg Distillery was created while sitting on the beach in the Caribbean. At first, the idea was to import Caribbean rum and blend and bottle in NH. Once the history of rum and New Hampshire was looked into, the decision to make rum instead was decided upon.

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Products:

They import 4000 pound totes of Louisiana molasses to make their rum! A traditional Colonial rum distilled in the time it took to travel via ox cart from the distillery to the tavern.

Sea Hagg Silver Rum: small batch, made from US grown sugar cane molasses. Sea Hagg’s rum is distilled in a traditional copper alembic pot still, barrel aged and bottled by hand.

Blueberry Rum: contains one pound of blueberries per container!!! They went through 5000 pounds of blueberries last year!

Amber Rum: a true colonial style rum. Colonial style rum was made in the areas between Portsmouth and Newport (RI). 80 proof, aged 5 months. Had a slight oak and whiskey flavor but was very smooth.

Strawberry Rum: when we tried it, it was 60 proof but would grow to be 80. Went down smooth and easy. The strawberries are from a local farm, Apple Crest. Can’t wait to pick up a bottle when they are all labeled! I think it would go great in many drinks, but also over ice.

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Poitin: Irish moonshine. All grain style. When we tried it, we tried it straight from the barrel. It was 120 proof at the time, they will bottle it at 90 proof.

picstitch (42)Peach eau-de-vie: Peach, un-aged brandy. Sea Hagg Distillery enjoys working with seasonal fruits.

Sea Hagg Distillery will also have a Spiced Rum coming out this fall!

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Want to visit?

Complimentary Tastings, Tours, and Sales:

Hours of Operation:

Wednesday – Friday; 12:00pm – 6:00pm.

Saturday; 12:00pm – 4:00pm

Sundays (Holidays); 12:00pm-4:00pm

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Why’s the rum gone?!

Sea Hagg Distillery- coming soon!

On our visit with Granite State Growler Tours, we visited the Sea Hagg Distillery, located in Hampton, NH. I am waiting to write my post about Sea Hagg Distillery until they come out with their… Strawberry Rum. Yes, you read that right- strawberry rum. They have the labels, and it should be out next week. Mark suggested I wait, so we can talk about how delicious it is (we tried it on the tour, but… ok, we just really want a bottle!). Once that bottle is in my hands, and I have had a drink… or two… you will be gifted with a post about how awesome Sea Hagg Distillery is!