EDIT: Lonnie from GrandTen sent an email my way and let me know that he enjoyed my review. Also, I am now aware that his name is not Robbie. Correction made!
For whatever reason, most of my experiences around Boston have been centered around brewery tours. Or trying to find a decently priced sushi restaurant with an atmosphere that we enjoy. But mostly brewery tours. If ever we’re at a loss for something to do on the weekend, there’s a pretty good chance will head on down to the Harpoon Brewery and see how many free samples we can consume in fifteen minutes.
Yesterday, we decided to continue the trend, but in a slightly different direction. A couple of friends and I went to take a tour of the GrandTen Distillery, which just opened in South Boston last April. It’s about midway between Andrew Station and Broadway Station on the Red Line, although, if you have your druthers, get off at Broadway and walk down. There are a lot less…bones on the sidewalk in that direction.
We’re used to the strictly regimented and tightly coordinated tours of Sam Adams or Harpoon, come in twenty minutes ahead of time, get a ticket for next available tour, muddle around the conveniently located gift shop and then get herded through the brewery by excited youths. At GrandTen, we walked through the door and were immediately greeted by Lonnie.
He asked us if we wanted to go on a tour and then away we went. It was very relaxed, very informal and one of the most easy-going tours I’ve been on. He showed us around the stills and the fermentation tanks and the barrels where their Medford rum and gin were currently aging and I learned there’s more to aging liquors than just throwing it into a barrel and walking away.
Afterward, we went back to the tasting room. GrandTen currently has five different products available and all of which we were able to taste: Wire Works Gin, Fire Puncher Vodka, Amandine, Angelica and Craneberry. Most of the names and references in their products draw from local industries or legends and really help to cement GrandTen as a Boston institution in spite of its youth. For example, Fire Puncher is named for a local man who, in an act of incredible bravery, attempted to put out a fire in the building using only his fists.
All five spirits and liqueurs offer an incredible range of flavors and complexity. Fire Puncher is a vodka that was distilled with chipotle peppers and then aged, giving it a smokey flavor with a deep, slow burn. Wire Works gin is the gin you offer to your friend who does not like gin. It lacks the usual sharp, piney flavor of most gins, and goes for a more rounded, citrus flavor. The juniper berries act as a bind for all of the other flavors, giving the gin a mellow and more delicate taste, instead of being the one, overriding flavor.
And while normally I’m not a big fan of liqueurs because they’re usually saccharine sweet and a little too thick, GrandTen’s selection all hits the right notes without dumping a metric ton of sugar on your palate. While I’m not normally a big fan of amaretto, Amandine just hits in the right ways, while Angelica is a flowery fruity concoction. Craneberry is astonishing in its drinkability, but I don’t really want to talk about it so much, because they’re almost out.
The most exciting thing about all of their products, but their liqueurs in particular, is their potential in cocktails. As Lonnie pointed out, their strengths are their ability to enhance and brighten other drinks. They would all be powerful and useful tools for people who love to experiment with new cocktail creations.
All in all, if you’re in the Boston area, I recommend checking out the GrandTen Distillery tour. And, if you can’t take the tour, you can always track down their products here.
I would give them five out of five Hours of My Saturday Morning.
BONUS FACT: The tour is free!