RE:FIND Distillery is still the best little distillery on the Central Coast.
I am somewhat biased about this, but trust me. You need to try these spirits.
I stopped in for a visit last week to see what they’ve been up to since I featured them last year–because the Villicanas (owners Alex and Monica), with their mutual boundless energy, are always up to something fun and interesting.
Was I disappointed? HAHAHAHAHA no. Don’t be ridiculous. They’re still making the same top-quality artisanal spirits (and they do MAKE these spirits from scratch, which is a distinction most craft spirit producers cannot claim). But, ever focused on education as much as the sheer fun of this, they’ve introduced some new things that novice spirit consumers will enjoy, and will appeal to even the most jaded craft cocktail pros as well.
They’ve added a Kumquat Liqueur to their lineup (the fall/winter alternative to their Limoncello that’s so good for spring/summer quaffing). I really love liqueurs generally speaking, but this one is just NEAT. If you’re familiar with orange liqueurs, you might be expecting this to taste like those. And you’d be wrong, mostly. It still has sort of an orange-y quality (which is fine and lovely and delicious), but the Kumquat Liqueur is exotic and perfume-y in a way that no orange liqueur could be, no matter how hard it tried. The nose on this just delighted me when Monica poured a taste–the immediate impression reminded me of the sharp floral burst you get when you twist a piece of orange (or in this case, kumquat) peel. There is an almost aerosolized brightness that leaps out of the glass. And that, naturally, makes one want to TASTE it. What follows on the palate is equally perfume-y and exotic. Definitely citrus, but not your dad’s Grand Marnier. This is a fun and pretty and delicious liqueur.
So what does one do with a Kumquat Liqueur? Aside from drinking it straight (not that there’s anything wrong with that), it’s fabulous in cocktails. Monica made an on-the-spot RE:FIND cocktail using this liqueur and their “[e]” barrel-finished vodka (which tastes more like a whiskey, or whisky, which may explain that bracketed E in the name just a bit). That riff on a classic cocktail works really well.
*I will pause right here to tell you that tentatively sometime this coming summer, they will release their second bourbon.* I am a bourbon fanatic, and may be unduly excited by this. Okay, I’m SUPER excited by this. Their first bourbon release sold out in three hours. I missed that one, but (hope) I won’t miss this upcoming release.
So back to the cocktail thing–this is now a thing at RE:FIND (and a very good thing). They’re working with local artisanal soda and mixer producers to create exclusive mixers to pair with their spirits, which is great for these artisanal producers and even better for the RE:FIND customer. In addition to their original spirits club, they now have a cocktail club which ships in May and September. This is a brilliant idea, and a great way to give guidance to their customers on how to make best use of the spirits they take home from the tasting room.
The September selection (pictured here) includes their Gin, Barrel Finished Vodka, & Kumquat Liqueur, plus mixers & recipes. The cost per shipment is $110 (before tax/shipping), and gets you a 20% discount on any of their spirits you buy in addition to this. It makes a fun gift (especially a gift for yourself, of course).
And because RE:FIND’s raison d’être is to recapture what would otherwise go to waste–specifically, saignee from the winemaking process that would otherwise be discarded–here’s an update on this year’s harvest. Monica reports that they purchased saignee from 25 different Paso-area wineries, thereby reclaiming more than 60 farmed acres’ worth of winegrapes (and all the resources that go into farming those grapes). It’s not often you can enjoy a cocktail while simultaneously helping to save the planet, but that’s what you’ll get with RE:FIND’s spirits.
The RE:FIND tasting room is part of the Villicana Winery’s tasting room–and I recommend you try both the next time you’re in Paso (start with the wines, and finish with the spirits). A profile of their wines is still on my to-do list, but I will tell you that their wines are every bit as good as their spirits (they produce an outstanding Merlot, for starters). They also offer the artisanal mixers for their spirits right there in the tasting room, so you can get everything you need in one stop.
The Villicana and RE:FIND tasting rooms are located on the west side of Paso Robles at 2725 Adelaida Road. 805-239-9456, and are open daily from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.