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Ballast Point opens Spirits Tasting Room

A sample of Ballast Point Devil's Share Whiskey
A sample of Ballast Point Devil's Share Whiskey
Don Ayres

Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits is a company in the midst of a major growth spurt. If you were to compare their growth chart with that of a human being, it would line up quite well with NBA legend David Robinson. Much like Robinson, Ballast Point hit a serious growth spurt when they turned 17 as they opened their Little Italy location and started work on their behemoth Miramar facility. Tuesday notched the latest line on the Ballast Point growth chart with the opening of the Ballast Point Spirits Tasting Room.

A trip to the Ballast Point Spirits Tasting Room is a trip back to the days when men drank whiskey and polio was still a thing. If you snag a spot on one of their four daily tours, a guide leads you down a hallway from the beer tasting room into a whimsical recreation of a prohibition-era speakeasy. While the décor of the windowless room sets the mood, the spirits are the real star of the show.

A $10 tour ticket includes six quarter-ounce pours of a rotating roster of Ballast Point Spirits. The initial lineup consisted of Fugu Vodka, Old Grove Gin, regular and aged versions of Three Sheets Rum, moonshine and bourbon, which both go by the name Devil’s Share. The samples may be small, but they represent a big step forward for California’s craft spirits industry.

Prior to 2014, it was illegal for a distiller to sell samples of their spirits at the distillery for fear that the communists would win. Assembly Bill 933 changed all of that, and now distillers may sell up to six quarter-ounce samples at their distilleries. If you want a bigger pour, you’ll have to buy your own bottle, which is something you still can’t do at the distillery.

Back to the tasting room, the décor is straight out of prohibition days. The wooden tasting bar dominates the space, and has plenty of Ballast Point bottles on display. Old-time photos and a stuffed warthog head adorn the walls, and a pressed tin ceiling adds to the throwback ambiance. As a final speakeasy accent, a door next to the bar even has a sliding peephole in case Eliot Ness decides to drop by.

Besides pouring award-winning spirits, the Ballast Point staff will also give you recommendations for mixers, and enlighten you on future offerings. In the coming months, Ballast Point plans on releasing vodka with Southern California-inspired flavors like horchata, and a barrel-rested gin. Tours run at 1, 3, 5, and 7 p.m., and the offerings rotate depending on availability.

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