Split Rock Distilling, Newcastle, ME

 

We were in the coastal Maine area near the end of summer to visit with Megan’s Aunt, Uncle and Cousin. We went on a mini-alcohol tour featuring two breweries and a distillery.

Split Rock Distilling was our second stop after Boothbay Craft Brewery. Split Rock is located in Newcastle, Maine, which is just a short drive from Boothbay Harbor and Damariscotta.

Split Rock is named after the road traveled by owners Matt and Topher in order to meet. Each spirit is small batch, created with organic grains, organic fruit and organic sugar. Yes, their creations are all organic!

 

Megan and Mark

 

Split Rock is an inviting place, whether you spend your time outside or inside. Plenty of tables and games are available outside, as well as local food vendors (check out their facebook and website for who is coming next!).

 

Jenn and Aunt Terri waiting for us outside

 

Scheduled food truck

 

Washers

 

Jenga

 

Inside, you step up to the bar to try a sample, or buy a mixed drink using their organic spirits.

Matt, one of the owners/distiller, served us our samples. Organic Blueberry Vodka, Organic White Whiskey, Organic Bourbon Whiskey and Organic Gin.

Organic Blueberry Vodka
Uncle Steve and Aunt Terri had two bottles of this at their Maine house… so Megan knew we were in for a treat. Split Rock takes their Organic Vodka and steeps Native Maine blueberries to create each batch. It was very strong, as you would hope a vodka is. After trying it straight, we tried it with a bit of lemonade, and it became the perfect summer drink.

Organic White Whiskey
Made from corn, barley and wheat. Megan was impressed with how smooth it was! It was a bit too harsh for Uncle Steve to enjoy straight.

Organic Bourbon Whiskey
This is Uncle Steve’s favorite. Their White Whiskey, barrel aged for 3-5 months in 5 gallon barrels. Very good, even smoother than the White Whiskey.

 

 

Organic Gin
Their recipe is top secret, but this is the second Gin Megan has actually liked. Usually, when she thinks of Gin, she thinks of the time when one of her friends handed her a gin and tonic and it was quickly passed along … Their organic Gin is citrus forward, with a peppery throat. Star anise is present as well. Complex, in a wonderful way!

 

Prefer a cocktail?

One of Uncle Steve’s favorite items there is organic maple syrup they sell made in Jackson, Maine. Frontier SugarWorks currently ages their organic maple syrup in Split Rock’s Bourbon Whiskey barrels. They didn’t have any available at this time, but they expect it to come in again this fall.

We also had the opportunity to try a secret project Matt is working on…

This was absolutely AMAZING, and we hope that you are able to make it for more than just for personal use.

Matt telling Mark about the distilling process

 

What to go home with?

 

Enjoyed a cocktail while you were there? All ingredients are available to take home, and recreate the perfect cocktail!

 

We ended up buying a bottle of Gin, Bourbon and Blueberry Vodka!

 

Want to visit?

Normal Tasting Room Hours
Open on the 4th of July
Monday – Thursday: Noon – 6 pm
Friday and Saturday: Noon – 7 pm
Sunday Noon – 5 pm
or by appointment call 563-2669

 

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New England Distilling, Portland, ME

 

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New England Distilling is located in Portland, ME. This was our first stop on our most recent trip to Portland. We went up with Mark’s brother Jason and his fiancée Maureen.

 

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New England Distilling was started in 2011 and in 2012 started releasing Gin, Rum and Rye Whiskey. They are working on a Bourbon Whiskey now, but that will not be ready for at least a year and a half.

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Ned is the owner and distiller at New England Distilling, NED for short. He is a 6th generation distiller with family history in distilling going back 150 years to Sherwood Whiskey being made in Maryland.

 

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Original Sherwood Whiskey bottle…

 

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with a prescription on the back! This was used during Prohibition.

 

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Old pictures and bottle from the family history.

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Matt explaining the distilling process

 

The whiskey and gin are both grain based, and are first made into a distillers beer. They take special care in this process, it is where the flavor starts. The rum is made from a sugar water base.

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Rum fermenting

 

Each batch size is about 450 – 500 gallons. They ferment on the grains, which is not done while making beer because it can spoil or alter the flavor.

 

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Grain shaker machine

 

They give all the spent grains to a local farmer to feed the cows.

 

The still they use is not a super high efficient still, but it keeps more of the flavor.

 

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They have 2 copper stills

 

They run the whiskey and rum through the still 2 times at different temperatures. They run the gin through a third time with extra botanicals added for flavor.

 

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They use charred, white American oak barrels. They can only use them once, by law, to make American whiskey. A lot of the flavor comes from the barrel, and the charring in particular. The charring helps to release natural flavors and sugars from the wood.

 

They are considering making a non-American style whiskey so they don’t have to turn over barrels so quickly.

 

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Maureen tasting the rum

 

Eight Bells Rum
This is a New England style rum. It starts with molasses, instead of sugar cane which is used in Caribbean rums. The rum is aged in the barrels for 22 months.

The name Eight Bells comes from the bells rung during a duty period upon a ship. The bell was run at every half hour interval for a four hour duty period. Once the eighth bell pattern was complete, your duty was. End of duty meant time for your rum portion!

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The Eight Bells logo is a Winslow Homer painting. They were given permission to use it from the Museum of Art in Portland.

 

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Gunpowder Rye Whiskey
This is a Maryland style rye whiskey, there is no corn used to make this.

 

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It is aged in the barrels for 12 – 15 months in the smaller barrels, 2 years in the 53 gallon barrels.

 

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Grains in the whiskey

 

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Mark and Megan tasting

 

 

Ingenium Gin
The Gin has a floral smell and a floral taste, along with the gin taste. Good balances of flavor, not too much juniper. Both Jason and Megan purchased a bottle of gin!

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Gin

 

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Jason and Maureen having fun

 

 

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Hand bottling ‘machine’

 

IMG_1192They have a lot of stuff in their little gift shop.

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Candle holder made from wine barrel staves

 

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Want to visit?

 

Hours of Operation:
Monday-Friday 12-4
Saturday 10-4
Tours on the hour

Check out their facebook page for more information!

Other places we have visited in Portland:

Urban Farm Fermentory

Shipyard Brewing Company