Distilleries on Display
My first stop: St. George Spirits. The small-batch distillery, Spirit Alley’s oldest venue, opened in 2004 in a long-retired repair and refit station for Navy fighter planes. There are signs of the building's past everywhere, literally, as pointed out by my tour guide Chris Huning—a devoted St. George customer who's turned his passion into a side job. One sign, with the slogan “Pride Through Professionalism,” still adorns the hangar's back wall.
Entering St. George through its visitors’ door in back—beneath a sign that reads “Emotional Support Begins Here”—Huning and I pass through the distillery's tasting room to the production space. It's filled with stainless steel distillation tanks, hundreds of barrels, and a seemingly endless display of ripe Bartlett pears stored in open cardboard crates, their crisp, sweet fragrance permeating the building. St. George uses the pears for its flagship spirit Pear Eau de Vie, an un-aged brandy that's also one of the distillery's most popular offerings.
Each hour-long tour includes a tasting of six pours from the distillery's 15 offerings, so I ask Huning for some favorites. His suggestions include the Terroir Gin. “It smells like hiking in the woods,” Huning tells me, and it's true. The spirit's three key botanicals—Douglas fir, coastal sage, and bay leaves—work together perfectly to create an earthy aroma and flavor.