At Town’s End Stillhouse and Grill, we know the value of a good distillery: but what happens when you combine it with a restaurant? The answer is, some pretty great things. Today our team is bringing you some info on these unique restaurants and why they can make such a memorable destination.
What Is a Distillery Restaurant?
They’re Like Wineries With a Twist
Wineries have been using a successful business model for quite some time. While vineyards are where the grapes themselves are grown, wineries are where the wine is produced. It’s extremely common for wineries to have tasting rooms, where you can try out their different products. To take it a step further, wineries may also have a restaurant where they offer food that compliments their wine. Distillery restaurants have a similar mindset.
Distilleries with restaurants are able to bring you their quality spirits straight from the source. Combining good food and good beverages together makes for a great recipe. It’s no surprise that with this farm-to-table mindset, distiller restaurants often have a focus on bringing food straight from local sources. High-quality ingredients prepared by excellent chefs are the foundation of these restaurants, along with excellent drinks, of course.
A Great Place for a Range of People
Picking the right place to eat can be quite the process. If one person wants a good beverage, and the other wants high-quality, wholesome food, combining the two desires into one destination could be the way to go.
The cuisine at a distiller restaurant is designed to be more than just “bar food.” Even the most discriminating diner or apple valley cafe goer should be able to pick a meal that will satisfy their cravings. The menu items may also have their deserts complimented with a dash of alcohol, or have some quality whiskey mixed in with their sauces.
A Way To Feel Connected
It’s an excellent way for the lovers of good food and good beverages to unite and delight their taste buds. These types of restaurants are a way to connect you to what you’re consuming, and often have a strong focus on supporting local farmer’s markets and using the best ingredients they can get their hands on.
A Memorable Environment
The hybrid concept offered by distilleries with restaurants brings a unique experience to the table. You can’t get an environment like this at any old restaurant or bar. The concept of a tasting room that’s evolved into something so much more makes for a very fun environment. You can relax, try out different drinks, and have good food and plenty of things to talk about.
Hybrid operations like this can help people feel more of a connection to the food and drink they enjoy. These environments combine all the benefits of a restaurant with the exciting environment distilleries can offer.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How Does the Distilling Process Work?
Want to have a deeper understanding of the distilling process before you look for the right distilling restaurant? You can use some of these facts to impress your friends on the way over.
The term “stillhouse” is often used to describe the area where the distilling process takes place. While high-tech equipment is often used in modern times to encourage high-quality results, some aspects of the distilling process have remained essentially unchanged for centuries. For example, the law of fractional distillation describes the difference in boiling points. It allows the producer to separate water and ethanol. This has been true since the dawn of distilling technology.
2. Is Distilling the Same As Brewing?
Close, but not quite. A lot of folks don’t know the difference between a distillery, which makes hard alcohol like gin, vodka, whiskey, and rum; and a brewery, which makes beer. The beginning of the distilling process can be fairly similar to making beer. The basic ingredients like yeast, grains, and water are combined. As the grains break down, they’ll turn the starches into sugars, then the sugars into alcohol with the help of enzymes and yeast.
After that, distilled spirits have some extra steps that set them apart. Spent grains will be drained off, and the remaining fluid is poured into a still. Since alcohol has a lower boiling point when compared to water, it will vaporize first. When the vapor is cooled down, it will be condensed and collected. This process can vary depending on the distiller and the type of alcohol being made, but those are some general differences between distilling and brewing.
3. What Is Barrel Aging?
Barrel aging can be another step in the distilling process. Newly-made spirits can be aged in barrels like oak, which contribute to the coloring and flavoring of the spirits. When it comes to making whiskey, you may see a variety of barrels being used. American or French oak barrels can be chosen, or the barrels could be charred, toasted, used, or brand new. It all depends on the type of whiskey that’s being produced.
For example, a used French oak sherry cask may be used to age scotch. New charred American oak barrels are often used to age bourbon. The options are extensive, and it can be fun to keep track of what kind of technique is able to produce your favorite type of whiskey.
4. Is Older Whiskey Always Better?
Whiskey gets its flavor through the aging process. The kind of barrels used for storage as well as the environment it’s stored in is important aspects of how the whiskey turns out. If you were to drink whiskey that had aged for only a short amount of time, you would probably find both the color and flavor to be a bit lackluster.
That said, while it’s important that the whiskey age for long enough, not everyone enjoys the flavor of whiskey that’s been aged for a very long time. Knowing the kind of flavor profile you’re going for is key here. Older can certainly be better for some folks, but it really depends on what you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to ask about these things when you’re taste-testing!
5. What Questions Can I Ask While Visiting a Distillery?
Want to show up prepared with some questions? There are plenty of good ones you could ask at distiller restaurants. You may ask them where they source their ingredients, as this is often something distiller restaurants take pride in. You could ask about where the water for the distilling process is sourced, and where the distilling and fermentation process takes place.
Additional questions you can ask can include:
- The types of Stills being used
- Whether the spirits are blended
- What kind of sugar cane is used to make their rum
- What approach they take to barrel aging
- Whether any additives are used in their spirits
- What makes their spirits stand out from the crowd
6. What Kind of Food Pairs Well With Whiskey?
If you’re ready to find yourself a distiller with a restaurant but want to know what food options are the best ahead of time, we’ve got some ideas for you.
Whiskey pairs well with red meat, seafood, desserts, and cheese, among other things. For starters, we’ll take a look at pairing whiskey with seafood.
Lighter styles of whiskey can be a great choice if you’re enjoying salmon and sushi. On the other hand, medium-bodied whiskies can help compliment smoked fish like mackerel. When it comes to pairing whiskey with fish, you want an option that is full-bodied, but not overpowering, with flavor notes that react well to the fish you’re going to eat.
When you think of eating chocolate and drinking alcohol, the first option that comes to mind may be wine. It’s a popular pairing, but it’s far from the only one. Whiskey tends to have warm, complex flavor tones. This helps bring out the rich and silky flavors of good chocolate. A robust whiskey can really help compliment the high cocoa content in darker chocolate.
Apple Pies or Crumbles
Caramel flavors in bourbon can really bring out the best in a good slice of apple pie. Any whiskey with a higher rye content is a great option to match with apple deserts, but it even goes well with lighter, more fragrant whiskies. Overall, this is a versatile desert option for a range of different drinks.
Surprisingly, cheese can be an excellent way to compliment the flavors of your whiskey. The kind of cheese you go for may depend on what kind of whiskey you enjoy best. Bourbon tends to go well with cheddar, while a rye or dense whiskey may pair well with Gouda or the sharp flavor of goat cheese.
Dried Fruits and Nuts
The classic fruit and nut combination is a popular way to accent the flavor of whiskey. Balance is key to finding the perfect fit. Sweeter nuts and fruits might go well with a strong whiskey, while sweeter whiskies can be complemented by nuts and fruits that have more bitter tones. Roasted nuts can be used to really bring out the flavor of a smoky whiskey.
Grilled steak and whiskey are often considered a match made in heaven. Red meat tends to have a big, hearty flavor. Since whiskey does too, the whiskey and meat tend to compliment each other without one flavor overpowering the other. If you’re going for a grilled steak, you may want to consider scotch. The smoky notes scotch is known for can imitate and compliment that rustic grilled flavor.
Ultimately, one of the most important aspects of pairing food and whiskey together is making sure both are quality. Our team takes pride in quality ingredients. Reach out to us at Town’s End Stillhouse and Grill today to learn more!