High spirits

Taste heady elixirs in an Alameda, Ca airport hangar

Tasting room

Thomas J. Story

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"Can you picture the character that kaffir lime leaves give to soups and curries?" asks Lance Winters, master distiller at St. George Spirits. "We wanted to capture that in our vodka." Winters and founder Jörg Rupf strive to highlight that and other subtle flavors in their Hangar One vodkas, single-malt whiskey, and eaux-de-vie, all of which can be sampled in their new tasting room at a converted airplane hangar in Alameda.

About 15 pounds of Bartlett pears go into every bottle of pear brandy. At St. George Spirits, you might be treated to a taste of it directly from the still, or get a chance to preview "orchard blend" apple brandy made from six varieties of cider apples.

Abashed at uttering the predictable exclamation, "It's so smooth!" upon tasting the vodka, one of Winters's guests adds, "You must get tired of hearing that." Winters grins: "I'll never get tired of hearing that."

INFO: St. George Spirits' tasting room (12-7 Wed-Sat, 12-6 Sun; tasting $10; 2601 Monarch St. at Alameda Point, Alameda; www.stgeorgespirits.com or 510/769-1601)

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