Interview: distiller Lance Winters (St. George Spirits)

Distiller Bay Area

Photo courtesy of Ellie Winters


Do you have any mentors?

Jorg has definitely been my mentor. He’s one of the greatest distillers in the world and I was able to learn directly from him, and not just from distilling and making a great product. He’s also a great mentor with interpersonal relationships with people.

What’s upcoming for St. George Spirits?

One of the things I always thought we can do as distillers is capture a sense of place. If you’re walking around in a park, there’s a sense of smell that no other place has. We wanted to try and capture that. You hear people in wine talking about terroir. A wine expresses terroir based on where those grapes are grown. You can only know terroir if you know where the grapes are grown. As distillers, we have the ability to distill the smell of those places. One of the parks in the area is Mt. Tam, which has this amazing smell of redwood, juniper and Douglas fir. We’re working to make a specific gin with wild fennel, redwood, California coastal juniper berries and coastal sage. We’re doing that, as well as two other gins. Those are on the horizon for June or July.

There are four main flavors of Hangar One: straight vodka, Kaffir lime, Buddha’s hand citron and mandarin vodka. There’s also seasonal spiced pear, raspberry, we just released our third version of chipotle pepper, and we’re working on blueberry and spiced apple.

What would you recommend eating with Mt. Tam gin?

Either some well spiced venison or wild boar.

What’s your ideal cocktail with Mt. Tam gin, and what would the recipe be?

A straight up martini, I wouldn’t want anything to mess with that aroma. I want to be able to pick up that glass and have a walk in the park.

What’s the key to a great martini?

Using the right spirit. It’s got to be a spirit that has a great expressional flavor profile and aroma. Gin is the spirit I believe in as a true martini.

If you could only drink one more cocktail, what would it be?

A daiquiri. We made rum last year from California sugar cane. It’s a grassy, agricole style expression of rum. It’s almost like having sex. It’s a very animal expression, and that would be my last cocktail.

Who would make it?

My wife.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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