San Diego's already got the lock on craft beer and we're poised to increase our presence in the craft spirits world with today's soft launch of Old Harbor Distilling Co., which joins Ballast Point Spirits and the recently-opened Malahat Spirits Co. as anchors of the local distillery community.
Founder and head distiller Michael Skubic has unveiled his 7,500-square foot distillery to the public, starting tours of the space at 4, 5 and 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays that can be booked via Old Harbor's website. The $10 tours include an in-depth explanation of their distilling process and a visit to the 600-square-foot tasting room for six quarter-ounce spirit samplings, which come with a keeper glass.
Produced from grain to glass on a 1,000-liter copper still they've dubbed the Belafonte, after the starring vessel in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Old Harbor's first release is San Miguel gin, made with fresh local ingredients picked the day of distilling at Suzie's Farm, including cilantro, sage and cucumber; bottles should be at stores and bars come November.
Going forward, the distillery will release a new spirit every month or so; rolling out soon will be Barrelflag, a navy strength white rum, plus a barrel-aged version, aged for a minimum of six months. Ampersand, a coffee liqueur made with Coffee & Tea Collective, is in the works as is a gin called 1542 made with native botanicals, including California juniper, sagebrush and lemon verbena.
Also on tap: a single malt whiskey, bourbon, rye and a smoked whiskey, plus a hopped amaro and seasonal eau de vies. Old Harbor will also be distilling product for another local company, RX Bitters Co.