Columbus Distillery Trail encourages sampling of local craft spirits at seven stops

·3 min read
Guide Andrew Huffman shows guests a spirit safe modeled after the type used by Ronald Julius Michelone, grandfather of cofounder and lead distiller Ryan Lang, as part of a tour and tasting Jan. 15 at Middle West Spirits, 1230 Courtland Ave. in Columbus. The business is one of seven local distilleries featured in the Columbus Distillery Trail, organized by Experience Columbus and Destination Grandview.
Guide Andrew Huffman shows guests a spirit safe modeled after the type used by Ronald Julius Michelone, grandfather of cofounder and lead distiller Ryan Lang, as part of a tour and tasting Jan. 15 at Middle West Spirits, 1230 Courtland Ave. in Columbus. The business is one of seven local distilleries featured in the Columbus Distillery Trail, organized by Experience Columbus and Destination Grandview.

Experience Columbus has launched the Columbus Distillery Trail, offering participants a taste of the burgeoning craft spirit industry in central Ohio.

The curated experience cosponsored by Destination Grandview includes stops at up to seven distilleries.

"There is a remarkable group of craft distillers in our community that are bringing a remarkable passion to the craft of spirit making," said Michelle Wilson, Experience Columbus director. "They have such a passion for it and are each creating their own unique take on spirits and winning a lot of national awards."

Kristen McMaster and Robert Cherry, both of Dublin, try a sample of Middle West Spirits' Michelone Reserve bourbon whiskey  Jan. 15.
Kristen McMaster and Robert Cherry, both of Dublin, try a sample of Middle West Spirits' Michelone Reserve bourbon whiskey Jan. 15.

The trail experience will be designed to appeal not only to craft spirit devotees but also to newcomers and even nondrinkers, said Brian Cheek, Destination Grandview director.

"I think people will be fascinated to learn about what goes into the process of creating and making a craft spirit," he said.

Those age 21 or older are invited to download the Distillery Trail's digital passport at experiencecolumbus.com/fun/.

After making a purchase – including food or souvenirs – at four stops, visitors will receive a custom Simple Times mixer, Wilson said.

Guide Andrew Huffman (left) walks guests through Middle West Spirits' distillery as part of a guided tour and tasting Jan. 15.
Guide Andrew Huffman (left) walks guests through Middle West Spirits' distillery as part of a guided tour and tasting Jan. 15.

Participants visiting all seven stops will receive a Columbus Distillery Trail T-shirt.

The seven Columbus stops are (visit websites for guided tour information):

• Echo Spirits Distilling Co., 985 W. 6th Ave., echospirits.com

• Endeavor Brewing and Spirits, 909 W. 5th Ave., endeavorbrewing.com

• 451 Spirits, 590 Oakland Park Ave., 451spirits.com

• High Bank Distillery, 1051 Goodale Blvd., highbankco.com

• Middle West Spirits, 1230 Courtland Ave., middlewestspirits.com

• Noble Cut Distillery, 750 Cross Pointe Road, Suite D, noblecutdistillery.com

• Watershed Distillery, 1145 Chesapeake Ave., Suite D, watersheddistillery.com/kitchenandbar

Guide Andrew Huffman (center) talks with guests Jan. 15 during a tour of the Middle West Spirits distillery.
Guide Andrew Huffman (center) talks with guests Jan. 15 during a tour of the Middle West Spirits distillery.

Each stop will provide visitors something different, said Tony Guilfoy, co-owner and head distiller at Noble Cut.

"It's like when you move into a new city and start asking people where all the good restaurants are," he said. "People start telling you about this place or that place. Some may be American cuisine; some may offer Italian food; and others might be French restaurants. They all offer good food.

"That's the way it is with spirits in central Ohio. Our 'cuisine' is spirits and no matter where you go on this tour, you're going to get to sample a unique flavor."

"There's a lot of innovation going on in central Ohio," said John Daily, general manager at Middle West.

Andrew Huffman pours spirits taken directly from the still for guests to sample at the Middle West Spirits on Jan. 15.
Andrew Huffman pours spirits taken directly from the still for guests to sample at the Middle West Spirits on Jan. 15.

The innovations that central Ohio spirit makers are bringing to their operations inspire each other and help enhance the local movement, Daily said.

"A high tide is raising all the ships," he said.

A spirit of camaraderie exists among the seven local craft makers, Endeavor owner Scott Talmage said.

"Craft spirit making is the ultimate science-geek process," he said. "One of the best things about it is getting to meet the other spirit makers and learning about what they're doing. Their ideas spark your own ideas."

Just as Columbus is known as America's "test kitchen" in the restaurant industry, the same is true for spirit making, Guilfoy said.

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This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Columbus Distillery Trail encourages sampling of local craft spirits at seven stops