Two of our favorite food adventurers joined us for our Seacoast Spirits Tour; Rich and Andrea. Andrea offered me a more in depth overview of Flag Hill including a review of each spirit that we tried. So this is her account of our trip to Flag Hill Winery and Distillery.

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An idyllic spot — and the wine & spirits are good, too!

We decided to take advantage of a Saturday tour at Flag Hill Winery & Distillery in Lee and we were lucky enough to have General Manager Heather Houle show us around.  Flag Hill’s new distiller, Brian Ferguson, also joined Heather on the tour.  They made a great team, each adding fun facts to the narrative.

The rain cleared just before we headed out so we were able to start with a look at the vineyard, checking out the area where they grow the grapes used to make their white wines.

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On the way to the vineyard we had a chance to see Flag Hill’s event tent which was being set up for a wedding.  It’s a very welcoming place with beautiful windows overlooking the fields.  The surroundings were all very lush after the Friday/Saturday morning rains.

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We traveled into the distillery/winery from the vineyard, to see where they make and bottle the wines and spirits.  The explanation of wine and spirit making was very complete and whetted our appetite for the tasting to follow.

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The $5 per person fee gets you a 30-40 minute tour and six tastings from the tasting room.  You can choose a mix of wines and spirits. We were lucky enough to have Brian pouring for us in the tasting room so he passed along some more lore about how the products are made and some suggestions on how to drink them.  Some of what we sampled:

IMG_2334 Karner Blue Gin

This one was a delight.  I haven’t had a lot of gin drinks, but had to buy a bottle after the tasting.  It has great botanical flavor and seems like a natural for summer drinks.  Brian suggested that it’s great paired with lemonade since it has what he described as a ‘citrus backbone.’

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General John Stark Vodka

This vodka, crafted from NH apples, was very smooth — smooth enough, in fact, to be sipped alone.  But it would also be great in mixed drinks.  This was another one we had to buy.

IMG_2342 Flag Hill Apple Brandy

I have a bottle of Calvados on hand to use in apple desserts and was expecting this to be in the same category.  In my opinion, Calvados smells wonderful and tastes terrible when sipped.  Flag Hill’s Apple Brandy was smoother, with a strong apple flavor.  I’m still not a convert but would recommend this to anyone who likes apple brandy. 

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Graham’s Grappa

Before he poured this one, Brian asked if we’d sampled Grappa before.  I guess he wanted to make sure we wouldn’t be shocked by the taste.  I had tried Grappa in the past so was steeling myself for the strong spirit taste but Flag Hill’s was actually a pleasant surprise.  It was much smoother than what I remembered of others.  Grappa is made from the pomace of the grapes — which contains the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems of the fruit.  It reportedly helps digestion after a heavy meal.

White Mountain Moonshine

This one was definitely strong, with a faint taste of corn.  It’s not aged, so don’t expect a smooth sip.

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Strawberry, Raspberry, Blueberry & Cranberry Liqueurs

These live up to expectations — they’re fruity and smooth.  The Cranberry is like sipping liquid cranberry sauce.  The others smell like a kettle of cooking fruit jam.  Yum!

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We didn’t feel the need to try the Sugar Maple Liqueur because that’s been a family favorite for years.  Don’t confuse it with other maple liqueurs.  Flag Hill’s is smooth and sweet, somewhat like maple syrup on steroids.

We also didn’t try many of the wines since we’ve had those over the years.  We did  sample the North River Port which was smooth and sweet.  I’d recommend it for sipping on a cold winter’s night — and maybe it wouldn’t even need to be winter or cold.

By the way, Flag Hill offers some great dining events, too.  We’ve attended a couple in the past and they’re lots of fun and feature good food.

Be sure to check out Flag Hill’s web site for news and information about events and new releases.  They run some fun things like a “Bottle Buy Back” program for their General John Stark Vodka and Karner Blue Gin bottles that can earn you a $1 credit for each bottle you return.  Not bad.  They’ve also just released a White Rum and have plans in the works for an aged rum, too.  We got to see the barrels, but, alas, no tastes yet.

Flag Hill Winery & Distillery
297 North River Road (Route 155)
Lee, NH 03861
603-659-2949
www.flaghill.com

 

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