This experience is a two part equation: Ransom Spirits and Ransom Wines. Both of which are notably delicious and if you haven't put any down your gullet yet, you are missing out. Ransom distillery is located in Sheridan, Oregon. Also located in Sheridan is a Federal Prison and Church of Scientology's Delphian School. That's a lot going on for 2 square miles of city limits.
Back to the booze- I first heard about Ransom because of their Old Tom Gin. Not many Gins are made in the style, and I think this one is causing a revival.
What makes Old Tom Gin special?
1. It can be aged in barrels (or not)
2. It can be made from malted grain, or neutral spirit
3. It can have sugar added (or not)
4. Must contain Juniper (like all gins)
What do you mean, or not? Well, the facts are muddled since there are no clear rules for the category. There are no age statements on bottles, nor is there a legal requirement to age gin to be called "Old Tom". It is a rather forgiving labeling compared to other spirits. Some Old Tom Gins are distilled from honey base, or stevia is added... but I digress.
Back to Cuts Camp!
Cuts Camp was an incredible opportunity for industry professionals to attend an overnight outing at Ransom Distillery. We spent the day milling grain, making wash, and cleaning and transferring product to different tanks. After a hard day of work we enjoyed an amazing meal among the wine barrels and continued imbibing on Ransom's delights. We even had the pleasure to taste some Italian olive oil while we dined with its maker.
Day 2 we awoke, nestled between a barley field and rows of Albariño grapes. We watched the Old Tom flow from the stills and experienced the minute changes from the phenol plasticky heads to the sweet lemony and herbaceous hearts.
Bridging that gap between product and producer is what it's all about.
Special Thanks to Tad Seestedt, Art Tierce, and the entire Ransom Spirits team for making this event so educational, and fun! Thanks to Oregon Bartenders Guild for providing the opportunity to attend. I can't wait until the next Cuts Camp! For the latest from OBG check out their Facebook
According to the Ransom Spirits Website:
"Ransom Spirits was started by Tad Seestedt in 1997 with a small life savings and a fistful of credit cards. The name was chosen to represent the debt incurred to start the business - Tad was paying his own ransom to realize his dream. Initially, the distillery made small amounts of grappa, eau de vie and brandy. Ransom began the production of a number of small-batch fine wines in 1999. In 2007, we took up the craft of grain-based spirits, adding gin, whiskey and vodka to the lineup. In 2010, we combined our crafts of winemaking and distilling to create our first Dry Vermouth."