Ok so I am finally back with what you guys have been waiting for. Part 2 of our adventure out to Frey Ranch Distillery and Churchill Vineyards got a little delayed by my hectic travel schedule lately. However, it will be worth the wait – I saved the best for last: the estate spirits that Colby and Ashley are making out at the ranch.
As I mentioned in Part 1, the tasting room has fantastic picture windows that allow you to gaze directly onto the one of a kind, handmade Vendome still. The still is an incredible piece of art that just happens to produce some of the finest spirits in Nevada, perhaps the country. The still room is the first stop on the distillery tour which then takes a quick detour to the holding tank room followed by a walk outside to the neighboring building known as the Barrel Room.
The brand new barrel room was just completed this year and serves as the temporary home to ALOT of aging spirits. It is an awesome place to catch a quick barrel sample of whiskey that is slowly aging into the yet to be released Frey Ranch bourbon. Or you can just take in the smell of all that amazing oak. Rumor has it that the bourbon will be released in the next year or two so get on their mailing list for a chance to snag a bottle or two of the first batch.
Across the parking lot, just off of the winery is what has come to be known as the Malting Room. That’s right, when they aren’t crafting wine, distilling spirits and taking care of their two little children; the Frey’s have started to produce malt! I’m still trying to understand if the days are longer in Fallon or if the rest of us are just underachievers. Back to the malt which is being produced from several types of grain and has already been featured in a couple local brewers’ beers. In fact, demand became so high that Colby had to limit who receives the malt for now, but he hopes to produce in greater quantities in the future. If you have a chance give the Pigeon Head Nevada Brown a try. This brew is made with the Frey malt and is a great, nutty, brown lager that hits the spot for almost any occasion.
Now back to the tasting room we go…a quick jaunt across the parking lot and we are back, belly up, ready to start sampling the spirits. First up is the Vodka which is smooth and would be perfect in a Moscow mule (local tip: several establishments have Frey spirits on hand and some have even created menu cocktails using them….Frey Mule anyone?).
Next is the Gin, of which there were two to try. The first Gin is the original Frey Ranch Gin and it packs a juniper-y, sagebrush-y wallop. While having powerful aromas and flavors of the estate grown plants, the spirit is refined and a nice contrast to all of the botanical gins flooding the market. This stuff recently took double gold at the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition which is the largest competition of its kind in the world. As a follow up to the first Gin, we are presented with an aged Gin known as No. 1. This Gin is completely different in profile than the first one as it has been aged in oak barrels and started out with a mix of different botanicals rather than the juniper/sagebrush blend. I really loved this gin! Super smooth with great flavor. I think it’s a nice sipper, but would be awesome in a Negroni as well.
The last spirit we tasted was the newest member of the lineup, the Reserve Absinthe. This is the most unique thing I think the Frey’s are doing at the moment. Created by a distillation process using wormwood and some other botanicals, this Absinthe is the real deal. The spirit has a nose and mouth of anise but not overpowering. In fact, the Absinthe has been described as one of the top Absinthe’s in the country by a large distributor. We even got a little history lesson from Colby on the background of Absinthe in the states – you’ll have to try his for yourself to see if it causes any hallucinations.
The tasting experience at Frey Ranch Distillery and Churchill Vineyards, as you can tell from my posts, is a very unique, intimate experience. The Frey’s clearly love what they do and show it in their hospitality and enthusiasm. It was truly a great experience and I cannot wait to return. It should definitely be a stop for anyone in the Reno/Tahoe area as well as a destination for those that may be passing through.