Going to a distillery is different from visiting a winery or a brewery. The magic in beer and wine happens in the dark, in vats and barrels.
Not so at a distillery. It’s the big copper pot, curvaceous and mysterious, where the action happens.
There is such a magic place on Kent Island, at Blackwater Distillery. If you ever saw Sloop Betty vodka behind a well-stocked bar, you’d remember her. She’s reminiscent of the pin-up girl that graced World War II planes — all leg and curves. But not in a copper still kind of way. Her image pays homage to the distillery’s founders’ father, a World War II vet.
Blackwater’s Betty graces the bottle of their vodka and their honey vodka. There aren’t any pretty girls on the rum bottles. Ah, but there’s a story. These are dubbed Picaroon, a reminder of the old days when the colonists of Maryland and Virginia fought over who ruled Kent Island and during Prohibition when Maryland was named the “wettest” state. (It’s all explained on the distillery’s website — fun reading.)
The stories are fun. The drinking’s fun too. After a quick tour of the Kent Island facility, stop by their gorgeous bar for a tasting of their wares. Not a drinker? They have non-alcoholic quaffs you’ll like too.
One good reason for visiting distilleries (and wineries and breweries) is the extra stuff they have there that you’ll never seen anywhere else. At Blackwater, they had an interesting beer-related whiskey-like Geist. They call it “spirit distilled from grain with hops.” Even though there wasn’t enough to taste, I took a bottle home. Not whiskey exactly, but it reminded me of whiskey with a malty after-taste. Unusual but nice.
Tours are offered every afternoon of the week.
ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman