10051 Old Grove Road, Suite B, Scripps Ranch
(Has gone out of business since this article was published.)
The times, they are a-changin’…for the better, if you’re a fan of spirits. With the New Year comes a change in state policy allowing local distilleries to offer samples of their products to customers, and none of San Diego’s spirit conjurers are more excited to show off their wares than the award-winning artisans of Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits (10051 Old Grove Road, Scripps Ranch), who will officially open their new spirits tasting room tomorrow, January 7.
Much in the way that its distillery and brewery cannot overlap, Ballast Point’s spirits tasting square footage must be separate from its brewery and within its DSP (distilled spirits plant). So, visitors looking for a taste of the company’s rotating assortment of clear and dark spirits may sign up for a tour at the merchandise area east of the beer tasting bar, then wait to be escorted down a hardwood hallway, past a window with a view of a grand copper still (imported from Kentucky), to an intimate, dimly lit speakeasy-style tasting room.
4696 30th Street, North Park
To make room for the facility, Ballast Point’s CFO and brewers gave up their offices, but the company made sure that sacrifice wasn’t in vain. Down to the many minor details, the place is stunning and thematically complete. A heavy wood, marble-topped bar and stamped tin ceiling tiles combine with vintage wallpaper, matching marble rail, and belly bars to form the basis of an interior motif the company describes as "apothecary-slash-old-timey drugstore" — think North Park’s mixology darling, Polite Provisions, but a little more mood-lit and a lot less hipster.
Head distiller Yuseff Cherney scavenged many an antique store for items like an old-school register, ancient books, a scale, and a mortar and pestle. Even the iPod-affixed radio and fire extinguisher are fauxed up to look as though they’ve pulled straight from the Prohibition era. The only overly out-of-place piece of modern technology spliced into the space is a flat-screen TV, made forgivable by its content—a visual walk-through of the distilling process. Given the newness of the spirit tasting experience in San Diego, explaining how that firewater comes into being is crucial.
Four tour slots will be offered per day at 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m. The cost per person is $10 and includes six 1/4-ounce tastes. Flights will change based on availability, but Ballast Point will draw from liquors including its Fugu Vodka, Moonshine, Old Grove Gin, Three Sheets Rum, and assorted whiskeys (though the latter figure to be featured less than often than the rest). New varieties are also on the horizon, which will provide additional attractors to what is an already plenty attractive space and a lovely addition to San Diego’s outstanding craft scene.