TOAST 2016 Celebrates Distilleries


On Saturday February 27th over 40 distilleries from Oregon and beyond showed off their liquid magic at TOAST 2016. The event, which is in its sixth year, was hosted by The Oregon Distillers Guild. Held at the Pearl District’s Really Big Video event space, TOAST gave Portlanders a chance to experience in-depth all that is wonderful about artisan spirits. Over 120 distillery creations were available for tasting!

When you drink a cocktail, enjoy a spirit on ice or sip it straight up, you might not give a great deal of thought to the story behind the booze. But TOAST 2016 demonstrated that each outstanding creation from the Pacific Northwest’s fabulously growing distillery scene has a backstory that tells a great deal about the history, culture and values of those who made it.

Here are some especially fascinating (and tasty!) examples:

Tualatin Valley Distilling presented their new historic revival spirit: Morewood's Usquebaugh. Based on a documented recipe by Samuel Morewood from 1838, the farmhouse spirit is from the 1650's British Isles, and Tualatin Valley Distilling is the only producer in the nation, if not the world.

The Walter Collective aims to strike a balance between tradition and innovation using offbeat ingredients. At TOAST 2016 The Walter Collective offered up a recipe for The Fitzgerald, which can be concocted with their gin – soft Italian juniper with bright citrus overtones and warm spice tones. Party like Gatsby with this cocktail in your hand!

NW Distillery from Warren, Oregon are the creators of the award-winning Liquid Vodka, Lavishmint and Hello Lovely, a spirited Strawberry Lemonade. NW Distillery also presented recipe cards, including a recipe for luscious Lavishmint Mojitos.

4 Spirits Distillery makes rum, vodka and bourbon whiskey. The distillery has dedicated their work to honoring U.S. veterans and active duty service men and women. Their branding offers reminders of the courage and sacrifice of the brave soldiers who serve our country.

Ye Ol’ Grog Distillery from St. Helens, Oregon sampled their infused vodka bursting with flavors like Madagascar vanilla beans, Vietnamese cinnamon and Mexican blue agave nectar. These guys are a lot of fun and like to think outside the box (while keeping their distilling standards high!) when it comes to producing spirits.

Back Drop Distilling makes their vodka from organic wheat. The distillery was established in 2014 inside GoodLife Brewing. Many spirits at TOAST 2016 were recognized for what’s inside the bottle, but some of the offerings also had exceptionally attractive bottles and/or labels. Back Drop Distilling Vodka was one of the most gorgeous.

Bull Run Distillery: At TOAST 2016, Bull Run Spirits created adorable tiny mixed drinks to sample. They’ve been handcrafting small batch spirits in Portland since 2010. They are the makers of Medoyeff Vodka and Starka, an Eastern European barrel aged vodka, as well as Pacific Rum and Temperance Trader Straight Bourbon Whiskeys. Ask them about their Straight “Oregon” Whiskey made with local water and grains.

House Spirits Distillery, who recently moved into new headquarters in Portland’s famed Distillery Row, own brands like Aviation American Gin, Westward Oregon Straight Malt Whiskey, Krogstad Festlig Aquavit and Volstead Vodka. At TOAST 2016, House Spirits Distillery shared these brands and information about what goes into distillery creations. Ask House Spirits about the tasting room, classes and events at their beautiful new space!

Oregon Spirit Distillers from Bend showcased one of the most daring, adventurous and romantic spirits of the evening – Wild Card absinthe! The distillery says that their mission is to create spirits that give the consumer an experience. They also say that they want their spirits to participate in the cocktail. What an interesting philosophy! Getting a chance to see the equipment used to serve absinthe certainly was an experience.


Ceviche from LechonCeviche from Lechon. Photo: Merlin Varaday

TOAST 2016 was a fabulous opportunity to learn about and enjoy all that is wonderful about our distillery scene. Delicious food samples were provided by Swank and Swine, Smallwares, Lechon and Bellino Trattoria Siciiliana and Pok Pok brought samples of their Som flavored vinegars. Additionally, the Oregon Distillers Guild conscientiously provided for the safety of all attendees by having Lyft on hand, right by the exit. So all anyone had to think about heading home was what a great time they had and how amazing spirits are!