Monday, December 22, 2014

St. Augustine Distillery Co., Fla.: Farm Supporter, Updated

When you go to St. Augustine check out the distillery. It is housed in the historic ice plant of St. Augustine located just south of the historic old city area. The company, started back in 2013, makes vodka and gin with Florida grown heirloom black sugar cane. They distill their small batch spirits the old fashioned way in copper kettles.

Shawn McDonald, St. Augustine Distillery Co. tour guide in distilling room
with copper kettles, St. Augustine, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
They embrace the old ways so much that they even make their own ice the same way it was made back in 1907.

I went for a tour of their facilities back in April, five weeks after opening to the public. Back then the only thing they had to taste, at the end of their free tour, was vodka.

The tour took us past a time clock, through a museum, into a movie theater and out into where the magic happened, in the distilling room.

Here, our guide Shawn McDonald, explained how St. Augustine Distillery vodka was different from other brands. Passing around a glass container filled with smelly liquid. “This contains the head of the vodka. It is acetate. The major labels leave this in and this is what gives you headaches. We remove it,” said McDonald.

As everyone walked past the hand labeling room and wall of bourbon filled oak barrels maturing in a natural aired room, McDonald said, “We do not air-condition this room because we want a maritime flavor in our bourbon.”

Then came the tasting starting with a straight shot of vodka followed by a Moscow Mule.

Phil McDaniel, CEO St. Augustine Distillery Co., autographing
bottles of Florida sourced vodka, St. Augustine, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey

Phil McDaniel, St. Augustine Distillery CEO, joined the group to sign bottles and answer questions. He thanked everyone for coming on the tour and said, “We love our farmers. We love this building. We love this community.”

They now make and sell gin, and in 2017 or so their bourbon will be ready for sale.

You can find them at 12 Riberia Street, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Phone 904-825-4962

You can also buy St. Augustine Distillery Co., spirits at most ABC Fine Wine & Spirits stores in Florida. Check their website for more locations to buy at

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