By now, you know that we really love beer. But we also love gin, like really love gin. It wasn’t love at first taste though. Beard first started drinking gin shortly after college. He and his friends went through a Tom Collins stage. Then Broad got into it a little later when Beard started making some delicious gin cocktails. But, we were picky about what gin we drank. Anything that was super junipery or strong was out. Then we came across Watershed Distillery’s Four Peel Gin. We bought it because it sounded delicious and we wanted to support an Ohio business. Now this was love at first sip. We became slightly obsessed. We made tasty cocktails with it and gave it to all our non-gin drinking friends, convinced we could get them to start liking gin. When Watershed Distillery invited us and other CLE bloggers to come down and tour their facility and taste their menu, there was no way we would miss this opportunity!
Watershed was founded in 2010 in Columbus, Ohio by business partners Greg Lehman and Dave Rigo. They named the distillery after a concept from explorer John Wesley Powell. He defined a watershed as “that area of land…within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community.” They started in a 2,000-square-foot space and have expanded twice into neighboring spots.
The sprits they currently make are:
- Four Peel Gin: light, modern gin, with a smooth body and a unique, aromatic blend of botanicals (including peels from lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit).
- Bourbon Barrel Gin: their contemporary style Four Peel Gin, aged in Bourbon barrels.
- Vodka: exceptionally smooth with subtle sweetness, made from locally sourced corn & apples.
- Bourbon: double-distilled, small batch bourbon made from a grain bill of corn, wheat, rye, barley & spelt.
- Old Fashioned: their Bourbon blended with quality Old Fashioned ingredients; simply uncork, pour over ice and enjoy.
- Nocino: an extremely rare black walnut liqueur, released once a year in limited supply.
- Apple Brandy: made from local Ohio apples.
- Guild Series Gin: their Four Peel Gin made with chamomile.
Due to recent changes in state liquor laws, Watershed was the first distillery to open an on-site restaurant in Ohio. The restaurant seats 70, has a full bar, nightly dinner service and has an event space looking into the distillery’s barrel room. Chef Jack Moore developed the menu and has described it as classic dishes any midwestern mother would make, but with contemporary flare. In addition to a wide range of signature cocktails made with Watershed spirits, the bar offers a selection of local craft beers and an assortment of wines.
When we all arrived at the facility we were greeted with a delicious boozy punch made with their bourbon barrel gin, Pimms, lemon juice, simple syrup and of course, bubbles. It was dangerously delicious, we could have drank it all day. Our group consisted of Leah from By Travel & Error, Jen from Why CLE? (and her husband Matthew), Crystal from Eat Drink Cleveland and Alyssa from the Mexitalian (check out all their spectacular blogs!).
While we were enjoying our drinks we heard a little bit about the history of the distillery and were then lead on a tour through the facility. We learned their distilling process from grain to bottle and all about their spirits. In the main facility we tried the Four Peel gin, vodka, and the chamomile gin. After touring the main facility we jumped across the street to their barrel-aging center where we tried the barrel aged gin, bourbon, old fashioned and the apple brandy. We then hopped back over to the restaurant where we tried Nocino samples were greeted with food to try from their menu. The food was unbelievable. We tried the fried brussels sprouts (with lemon, mint and black pepper honey), crispy fingerling potatoes with roasted garlic parmesan and rosemary aioli, pork rinds, and meatballs (with stewed tomatoes, mixed grains and cabbage).
As we enjoyed the food samples they guided us through a few of their super delicious handcrafted cocktails. Fun fact: the cocktail menu is inspired by IKEA and their instruction manuals. The cocktails are designed to be simple (and delicious), and instead of being garnished with fruits or other fun things they use a mist to spray over the drinks before you receive it. They are definitely the coolest drink menus we have ever seen! The cocktails also have fun names. We tried the Yardwork, Oh! in Ohio and Stock Home Syndrome. All of them were amazing, but our favorite was the Yardwork. It tasted like fall! We were also able to take the menus with us so we could recreate the cocktails at home.
We had such a great time at Watershed. The staff, the food, the cocktails, everything was amazing. If you find yourself in Columbus and fancy some good food and drink, we highly recommend checking them out. And, the next time you need a new bottle for the bar cart, consider one of their Ohio made spirits. I know we’re always fully stocked. Special thanks to Watershed for the invite and to Leah who helped put this event together for us CLE Bloggers!
*Disclosure: We were invited to a complimentary tour and tasting at Watershed Distillery. As always, all opinions are 100% our own.*