Innovation captures a unique spirit of California
A few years ago Aaron Bergh set out to legalize the old family moonshiner tradition by adding a special California twist to the gin mill pursuits of his forebears. Practice makes perfect, and in a few short years Bergh’s endeavors paid off. The Calwise Spirits distillery, tasting room and pub opened in Paso Robles and the Calwise Spirits label is carried by retailers including California Fresh Market, Whole Foods, BevMo, and Vons and leading bars and restaurants locally and throughout California.
Locals and visitors to the Central Coast have the special opportunity to visit the Paso Robles tasting room, enjoy a tasting flight and some amazing craft cocktails with some great food.
Big Sur Gin is the Calwise signature offering, distilled from locally sourced grapes and infused with 12 organic wild herbs that are native to the iconic Big Sur coastline, including sage, yerba santa, bay, fennel, and elderberry.
As a Central Coast native and an outdoorsman who studied plant sciences at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Bergh was inspired with the idea of Big Sur Gin while hiking in the region’s mountains. Bergh, at age 24, founded Calwise Spirits in 2016 and is one of the youngest master distillers in the world.
“I’ve been hiking around the Central Coast for years, and wanted to capture the aromas and flavors I found in the wild,” said Bergh. “I wanted to remain true to juniper as the classic central gin ingredient, but along with other traditional botanicals such as coriander and citrus peel, I decided to explore using native herbs. After a multitude of test batches, I finally found the perfect blend for creating this taste I call ‘Liquid California.’”
The results were immediate. Big Sur Gin earned a Best of Show medal at the 2017 Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America’s Annual Convention & Exposition, and a gold medal at the 2017 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition.
Extraordinary craft cocktails, bites and entrees
The $12 tasting flight is a quarter-ounce each of Big Sur Gin, Smoked Big Sur Gin, Blonde Rum, Spiced Rum, Industrial Rum, Orange Liqueur, and Barrel Aged Orange Liqueur. The tasting fee is waived with a purchase.
The “distillpub” features craft cocktails mixed from Calwise innovative spirits, house-made syrups and freshly squeezed juices. Cocktails include the Bramblin’ Man, Blood & Smoke, and Elevation, and special Calwise recipes for classics like the Old Fashioned, Mai Tai, and Mojito.
Food, from appetizers to dessert, includes Piquillo Poppers, Bacon Wrapped Dates, Caesar Salad, a variety of flatbread pizzas followed by irresistible Strawberry Cheese Cake and Chocolate Flourless Cake.
Calwise Distillery is located at 3340 Ramada Dr suite B, in Paso Robles. The tasting room is open Thursday-Friday from 4-9 p.m., Saturday from 12-9 p.m. and Sunday from 12-6 p.m. If you stop by the tasting room during the week you may get lucky and catch Aaron for a special tasting. For more information call (805) 369-2662 or visit calwisespirits.com.