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|Wood Fired Stills and Craft Brandy - A Gem of the Oregon Coast|
|Brookings - Harbor|
There are wood-fired stills so deep in the Oregon forest that they’re a secret to many.
But those two stills are legal, and they’re producing international award-winning brandies and liqueurs.
Brandy Peak Distillery is one of those rare gems that has put Oregon on the world map for craft distilleries.
David Nowlin, a former yacht broker in San Diego, moved with his wife Georgia in 1993 to a 57-acre patch of Douglas firs and blackberry bushes just north of Brookings.
They fell in love with the place, not far from the Pacific Ocean and Brandy Peak, the highest mountain top in Curry County.
Elk, deer and bear roam these tangled woods.
David’s dad, R.L. Nowlin, had worked for more than 50 years in the California wine industry, and his son was keen to produce a unique product that honored the elder Nowlin’s expertise.
They devised a distillery method using legal stills, hand-fed with fir logs.
The result: In 1994, the Nowlins became one of the few in the entire country distilling their own brandies.
Within three years, they had won double gold medals at the San Francisco International Wine Festival.
They won more awards as their product list grew to include an Oregon pinot noir brandy, blackberry liqueur, grappa and muscat.
“We make pure spirits,” David said. “We’re very low-tech, very hands-on.”
That means no additives, and a pure, clean taste.
Brandy Peak’s most popular product, the blackberry liqueur, is so smooth and fragrant, it tastes like Oregon summer.
That’s because the fruit is hand-picked in the wild by Oregon experts who are so secretive about their berry patches, even David admitted he doesn’t know the locations.
He said this in the tasting room of the distillery, set so deep in the woods, it isn’t found easily using only GPS.
David advises visitors to always phone ahead for exact directions, even though the distillery is just north of Brookings.
Georgia is enthusiastic about the booming mixology trend in Oregon. Several local hotels and restaurants use Brandy Peak’s aromatic pear brandy for martinis and other specialty drinks.
At the Superfly Martini Bar and Grill in Brookings, Brandy Peak’s blackberry liqueur is the main ingredient for a wicked martini.
“We’re always doing something new and different,” Georgia said, citing Brandy Peak’s blackberry liqueur truffle chocolates.
They’re custom-made by another Oregon original, Euphoria in Eugene.
David said he’s impressed with the redwood forests, secluded beaches and Douglas fir woods at Brookings. All the beaches are public, and accessible.
“It’s the prettiest stretch of Pacific coast,” he said.
Brandy Peak Distillery: 18526 Tetley Rd., Brookings, OR, 97415. (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Call 541.469.0194 for directions.
Tasting room is open Tues.-Sat., 1-5 p.m., or by appointment.
To find their products at other locations:
By Kathleen Kenna
Photos: Hadi Dadashian