On the Road with Oregon Bounty: Day 1- Entering the Spirit World
“By sampling our elixirs, you become part of the cadre, the insiders to a secret world.”
I have to admit, when I read this mantra of Sub Rosa Spirits, I was intrigued. I’ve seen and read the “Da Vinci Code,” and know a little bit about ancient secret societies, so I figured I’d do my own investigation into this mystical spirit world.
So, I begin my “On the Road with Oregon Bounty” journey today at the home of Sub Rosa, tucked into the House Spirits distillery in S.E. Portland. Oregon’s artisan distilled spirits industry and this part of the city is home to several of the state’s micro distillers.
Sub Rosa is the brainchild of Mike Sherwood, a guy who’s labored for years in Oregon’s beer, wine, and now spirits industries. He’s been a distiller for Oregon’s Rogue Spirits, as well as the founding executive director of the Oregon Brewers Guild.
For Mike, craft spirits are the perfect foil for food. That’s why his two products – Saffron Vodka and Tarragon Vodka – are intended for a niche market of cocktail lovers who also appreciate cuisine.
Mike, along with his wife Linda Lausmann, founded Sub Rosa last year and have received rave reviews for their infused vodkas. To make his spirits, Mike begins with premium vodka, and then creates a series of vodka “teas” by seeping herbs and spices such as coriander, cumin and saffron, or organic tarragon and fennel. Once these individual flavors have reached the balance he’s looking for, Mike blends them much like a vintner combines single-vineyard Pinot noirs to achieve balance, structure and flavor to create his two vodkas. In fact, each batch of Sub Rosa vodkas (50 cases each) is batch-numbered to reflect characteristics of each particular “vintage.”
“There are definitely batch variations that the general public may not detect, but I can,” says Mike. “Each one is a little bit different, and I like to embrace each one’s little idiosyncrasies.”
If you want to sample Sub Rosa, and spirits from some of the more than 20 Oregon artisan distilleries, be sure to attend the Oregon Distillers Guild Spirits Tasting, October 11 at McMenamin’s Edgefield in Troutdale. Or, take a tour of the seven producers in Portland’s Distillery Row during October and November. Check the website for details of open houses and special tastings.
By the way, the name Sub Rosa is Latin for “under the rose,” from the association of the rose with confidentiality (use of a rose at secret meetings in medieval times was a symbol of the sworn confidence of the participants). It’s part of Mike’s belief that those who try his spirits become part of the “Cadre of Sub Rosa.” Fortunately, finding a bottle at your local liquor store takes considerably less effort than Dr. Robert Langdon’s run-in with the Priory of Scion.
Check in tomorrow when I make my way to the Willamette Valley for Day Two for a visit to an heirloom tomato farm. Cheers!
For more information on Oregon distillers and the events mentioned here, or ideas on what to do in Oregon this October and November, please visitwww.traveloregon.com/Bounty.