St. Michaels, a Talbot County Town that is famous for having fooled the British, is also a boaters paradise, seafood heaven and just the cutest little town for girls on a shopping spree or lovers seeking a romantic getaway.
I discovered this weekend for myself its newest claim to fame: a trio of local booze factories all within a few steps of each other.
St. Michaels Winery has been around the longest. It has moved a building away from its original digs in the old mill complex and moved its winemaking operations to Federalsburg. If winery tours are no longer an option, not even in Federalsburg, its wines are worth a stop. I used to think they were too syrupy for my taste. But times have changed. Hallelujah.
Their sangiovese was bold, the Bordeaux style Island Beauty made me stop for another sip. Was I in St. Michaels? Yup. And loving it. Their chardonnay comes oak-y or not. And yes they’re still making their famous Gollywobbler wines. I got smooth-talked by the peach Gollywobbler, took it home and made a wonderful cocktail with prosecco and their peachy blend.
Eastern Shore Brewing brews its wares in a room off its comfy tasting room. The beers are smooth, easy to drink. The Dead Rise pale ale is light and refreshing, the Duck Duck Goose porter has some heft to it and the St. Michaels ale is pretty and pretty good. The brewery has been around for about five years. I think they’ve gotten the hang of it.
The newest in this trifecta is Lyon Distilling. Not a year old yet, they are perfecting the distilling of white and dark rum and corn whiskey. Now their website says they are open only on Friday and Saturday for tours and tastings. But if you are in the neighborhood — maybe I should say when — ring the doorbell or if a yellow walkie-talkie is on the door, go ahead and ask if you can visit. The friendly distillers inside were certainly happy to welcome us for a taste of their wares. If you want to be formal, go ahead and make an appointment.
Lyon’s rum has some serious character. I think it’s good enough for a pirate’s quaff. The dark rum is strong, full of caramel and burnt sugar, not a drink you’d forget. The white rum is smoother, brighter. I won’t tell you I liked one over the other. They’re different, both good.
Both Eastern Shore Brewing and Lyon Distilling offer tours of their shops. Call ahead if you gotta go behind the scenes. These are small shops with small staffs. But big hearts are behind these operations. You can tell at the first taste they’re serious about what they do.
And we can have fun visiting all three in one lovely afternoon in pretty St. Michaels.
© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman