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5 Distilleries Worth Breaking Out Your Passport to Visit

HACIENDA SAN JOSE DEL REFUGIO

HACIENDA SAN JOSE DEL REFUGIO

HACIENDA SAN JOSE DEL REFUGIO
Amatitán, Mexico
About 30 miles northwest of cosmopolitan Guadalajara through the gorgeous, agave-studded hills of Jalisco, the home of Herradura Tequila was built in 1870. It’s a true hacienda, a walled compound containing all the land and facilities needed to both support and house the workers who farm agave and run the stills. The 90-minute tour includes a trip through the full production process, from a jimador’s demonstration of how to harvest and prepare agave hearts to fermentation, distillation and aging. The highlight, though, is the old distillery, a moody brick building with all the labor-intensive horse-powered and wood-fired equipment used until 1962 preserved for posterity. All that’s topped off with, of course, tastes of four of the house spirits. (Tickets vary from 150 to 350 pesos [about $10-25] depending on what you get to sample.) For an all-day experience, try the Tequila Express, which begins with a scenic (and bar-containing) train ride from downtown Guadalajara and includes lunch, live music, dancing and rodeo demos after the tour.

HOUSE OF BOLS

HOUSE OF BOLS

HOUSE OF BOLS AND WYNAND FOCKINK DISTILLERY
Amsterdam, Netherlands
In business since 1575, Bols claims to be the oldest distilled spirits brand in the world. And the venerable brand offers two experiences in the heart of historic Amsterdam. Though not the site of any actual distillation, the sleek and modern House of Bols is a museum of cocktails, taking visitors through all the flavors and production process of Bols’ many liqueurs, gins and genever. There’s even a station where you can try your hand at flair bartending, and the tour concludes with a custom cocktail mixed to match your tastes. The Wynand Fockink distillery, on the other hand, was built in 1679. It closed in the 1950s, but Bols restored it two years ago and now makes Bols Genever and Damrak Gin there. The best part? The two are only about a 30-minute walk apart, which takes you across beautiful canals and through historic neighborhoods.

LAGAVULIN DISTILLERY
Port Ellen, Scotland
Though just 3,000 people call it home, the rugged and remote Scottish island of Islay contains eight currently operating distilleries. That’s because it’s the ancestral home of the smoky peated spirits beloved by many whisky fanatics. Of those eight, Lagavulin’s white-painted building nestled on a North Atlantic bay is perhaps the most iconic, thanks in part to repeated visits by Ron Swanson on Parks & Recreation. Getting here can be an adventure, as ferry service is sometimes shut down due to bad weather, but the setting and the whisky are totally worth it. There are several tour and tasting options; the premium tasting lets you try Lagavulin’s unaged new make and four other bottlings, while the “nips & nibbles” session pairs three different Scotches with complementary bites.

HACIENDA LA CARAVEDO

HACIENDA LA CARAVEDO

HACIENDA LA CARAVEDO
Ica, Peru Since you now know (almost) everything about pisco, it’s time to plan a trip to Peru. Hacienda la Caravedo, the home of Pisco Portón, is the oldest extant distillery in the Americas, having been in operation since 1684. The tour gives you a taste of both new and old, showcasing both the original gravity-fed facility and the gleaming modern distillery built with a wide range of eco-friendly features. With some advance notice, you can even set up a lunch in the vineyards or a horseback ride through the property as part of your visit.

A.R. SUTTON & CO. ENGINEERS SIAM

A.R. SUTTON & CO. ENGINEERS SIAM

A.R. SUTTON & CO. ENGINEERS SIAM
Bangkok, Thailand
You wouldn’t think Bangkok would be the place to go if you wanted to visit a distillery. And up until late last year, you would have been right. But this brand-new joint, the city’s first, is one of the coolest-looking distilleries I’ve ever seen. Owned by Ashley Sutton, an Australian whose clever interior design is the appeal of some of Bangkok’s top bars, including The Iron Fairies and Maggie Choo’s, it’s decked out in a surreal steampunk theme. And the distillery’s product is just as creative: Iron Balls Gin, distilled from local pineapples, passion fruit and coconut sugar and flavored with ginseng, coriander and imported juniper, is set to be released in Thailand in about a month.


Jason Horn is Playboy.com’s spirits columnist. He lives in Los Angeles and you can follow him on Twitter @messyepicure.

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