It was great fun to introduce my Associate Publisher at Elite magazine, Amanda Benson, to Paso Robles. She had a fun time and is already itching to go back. And the one big discovery for Amanda: discovering a distillery in the new Tin City wine tasting area: Wine Shine.
We were actually entering Clos Solene for an interview I had set up there when we spied Patrick Brooks beckoning to us. That was enough of a hook, and when he invited us to visit with him and try his spirits, we knew where we would head next.
Brooks, the owner of Wine Shine, has one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen, and we were about to learn – and taste – why. Beginning with some highly acclaimed vineyards, Grenache grapes that would be distilled into neutral brandy and then infused with fresh fruits and/or botanicals and spice, are sourced from giants such as James Berry Vineyard (a 2010 Wine Spectator wine of the year).
Tasting Neutral Brandy to the Manhattan Project
A bit like a fine no-burn tequila and a grappa, this started with James Berry Vineyard Grenache.
The Turkish fig infusion flavor reminded me of a super yummy/fresh-out-of-the-package Fig Newton bar. A very unique flavor in a spirit.
Hibiscus Lemon Brandy
Our second to taste and a favorite for both Amanda and me, with flowers from Kauai and lemons from San Luis Obispo, it started out sweet but the lemon balanced the flavor perfectly.
Mango Ginger Black Pepper Brandy
Loved the rich viscosity on the mouth, and the sweet flavor of dried candied mango. Brooks said with a little Ginger Beer and lime he creates a “Paso Mule.”
Burned Orange Brandy
This burned orange peel flavor that had been aged in neutral French oak was an easy drinker with 5% sugar and lingering cool oak at the back palate.
Cinnamon French Oak Brandy
Another that had aged for a time in French oak that I thought would be great for the holidays. Brooks said it would lend itself well with a bit of eggnog or in a Horchata!
Barrel Aged Manhattan Project Brandy
After five months in barrels that not only started with that same James Berry Vineyard Grenache, the barrels also were rolled with Wine Shine’s port wine. With the addition of Vermouth and Bitters – again made at Wine Shine – this new ready-to-go brandy in their Cocktail Series had aromas of candy and toasted marshmallows. Brooks said it only needed to be served over a little ice.
Barrel Aged Manhattan Project Whiskey
This time they used a barrel that had held beer before, and again added in their own Vermouth and Bitters. Loved the hint of cherry and oak on the nose and palate.
About Wine Shine
Wine Shine passionately crafts artisan spirits in the heart of California’s central coast. We use only the finest ingredients sourced locally and organically whenever possible. At Wine Shine, we are committed to blending age-old distillation techniques with innovative nuanced flavors that will entice your palate. Our crew collectively has over a century of experience in mixology, culinary arts, and wine making that shines through in every bottle. We invite you to enjoy our brandy, whiskey, and a variety of small batch spirits that will surely leave your taste buds craving for more.
Paso Robles Distillery Trail
Information on all of the member distilleries in Paso Robles, events, contact information and a map can be found here: http://www.pasoroblesdistillerytrail.com/distilleries/
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com