A review of spirits from a relatively new distiller, Liquid Riot, in Portland, Maine. They can be found at 250 Commercial Street.
I’m always happy to see distilleries open here in New England. It’s hard to develop a business plan, procure funds, find the right location, and open a successful business. And it takes even more time to find the best way to produce the product.
The proprietors are brothers Eric and Ian Michaud. They write “… established on the waterfront in Portland’s Old Port, just blocks from City Hall and the location of the Portland Rum Riot, in homage to those that fought for their beverage of choice. As Maine’s first Brewery/Distillery/Resto-Bar, we take all the passion and energy of these past riots and put it into our own liquids, bottled or on tap, made fresh locally for your enjoyment”
When I entered this establishment on a rainy Sunday afternoon, despite the rest of Commercial Street being sleepy, this place was hopping. Clearly people were loving the nautical atmosphere, food, and locals say that the many beers produced here are great. Fantastic! I’m not a beer drinker myself, so I stuck to distilled spirits today. Let’s see what they are all about:
Dow’s Demise Dark Rum. Aged in bourbon barrels for 18 months. This has a thick, aromatic molasses nose and taste. Taste like I imagine an old-fashioned New England rum would. Light mouthfeel. I definitely would use this for cocktails.
Old Port single malt whiskey, made with American cherry wood smoked barley, then distilled and aged in Bourbon barrels for over 18 months. Well, it doesn’t taste like any of the single malt scotches I’ve tried. A bit of a disappointment. Too bitter.
Old Port straight rye whiskey with Maine grown organic rye and chocolate malt, distilled and aged for 2 years in white oak barrels. Tangy mint and.rye seed flavor. Almost a cucumber or pickle juice flavor? Fascinating, but not something I would drink.
Old Port Straight bourbon made with local organic corn, rye, and buckwheat distilled nature 2 years in freshly chard new American Oak. This bourbon isn’t ready for prime time. It is young – sharp, pungent. I don’t see how more aging is going to help this. What they are doing here needs to be tweaked – perhaps by using a different yeast during fermentation – or aging longer (and likely both.)
Don’t get me wrong. I am not knocking it because it is young – Stroudwater Distillery (also in Portland, ME) is selling a young bourbon that has great promise, and I enjoyed the bourbon I tasted at Flag Hill (made in New Hampshire.) I still offer my full encouragement. Keep at it, try different mash bills, yeast strains, perhaps tweak how you are doing the cuts on the spirits, and you’ll get there.
Here we see the writer doing due diligence.