What I find most surprising about the Bulletin’s Sunday article on Bendstillery (behind the paywall, unfortunately) is that Bendistillery hasn’t actually been distilling alcohol this whole time. From the beginning of the article:
Since 1996, Bendistillery Inc. has produced its vodka and gin — filtered five times through crushed Central Oregon lava rock and mixed with fresh local water and other ingredients.
But it has never actually distilled the alcohol that comprises the backbone of the company’s products, at least not for mass consumption. The company doesn’t hide the fact, said Alan Dietrich, the company’s CEO; it’s just not something the employees actively promote.
Bendistillery buys 190-proof alcohol, sometimes known as ethanol or neutral-grain spirits, from a large manufacturer to make its products, Dietrich said.
That’s about to change.
This week, Bendistillery will take up the role of a full-bore distiller, making gin from ingredients exclusively found on the company’s 23-acre farm, such as winter wheat, Dietrich said. It should hit shelves by the holidays.
I always just assumed that with every other advertised step of their process (filtering the vodka through lava rock, gathering juniper berries for the gin by hand, building a larger distillery out in Tumalo) that distilling their own spirit was part of that. It seems very odd to me that that wasn’t in fact the case.
But! I’m glad they’re all set to start producing spirits themselves. You can get a lot more character and control over the process doing it in-house, and do more interesting things as well, something that you can see with the other local distillery, Oregon Spirit Distillers (also mentioned in the article, and who does distill all their own spirits in-house). In that vein, I think it will be very interesting to do a side-by-side tasting of Crater Lake Vodka that’s distilled in-house against the Vodka that’s from another company’s spirit.