Ah, the joys of wine tasting. You’re booked in a charming boutique hotel and have climbed into the back of a car for the day who’ll take you from vineyard to vineyard to taste straight from the source. And then, on the way from one picturesque tasting room to that well known wine cave, the Napa Valley wine (party) bus passes you on the road. Wine tasting, while ever romantic and completely worthwhile, is no longer the off-the-beaten-path activity of in-the-know booze-drinkers.
Some have branched off to experience the Kentucky bourbon trail, while others have found themselves on the brewery tour track. But there are ever more spirits to consider — from mescal and genever to aquavit and ouzo. For the curious imbibers among us, there are distillery and production tours of alcohols across the globe that remain on the boozy road less traveled. Calvados, the strong and sweet apple brandy from France that finishes a meal, can be studied at the Busnel Distillery, where tours finish with, what else, tastings.
Classic cocktail lovers will rejoice at the chance to discover the process of making genever from start to finish in Amsterdam, where the House of Bols offers all kinds of tours and tastings. Many countries around the world lay claim to liquors that have become a source of national pride. Greece’s ouzo, for example, is an anise-flavored aperitif that packs a serious punch, while Scandinavians have been drinking locally made akvavit since the 15th century.
From cava in Spain to port in Portugal, spirits are often made by taking extreme care and honoring centuries’ old techniques, which makes distillery and production tours so fascinating. And you can rest assured that no 21-year old birthday party bus will whiz by as you’re touring the confines of a family-owned spirit distiller and tasting their most prized products.