We have done a few beer tours now and they have all been pretty great. Since I don’t drink beer, I mostly go along for fun and to take the pictures. This week I planned a distillery tour, being a bit selfish as this was an activity I could participate in more. There are two distilleries close to Portsmouth – Flag Hill and Sea Hagg. We were joined for this food adventure by Rich and Andrea. Andrea also wrote up a review of Flag Hill that can be found here.

Flag Hill Winery and Distillery

Flag Hill is a Winery and Distillery in Lee, NH. They started out as a winery and have now transitioned to include a distillery as well. They offer tours once daily on Saturdays and Sundays during the summer season for $5. Tour times vary based on weddings and other events that they host. You can find more information about their tours including a calendar with tour times on their website at http://www.flaghill.com/visiting/tours/.

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The tour starts in the tasting room/company store. It then moves through the event tent and out to the vineyard. On the day we toured they were setting up for an afternoon wedding. They schedule their tours in such a way that they are over a few hours before any guests are scheduled to arrive. The event tent was beautiful and in a great setting. I’ve never been to an event here but it looks pretty nice.

Moving out into the vineyard we got a lot of great information about the vineyard and an overall history of Flag Hill. We then moved inside to where the wine and spirits are made. We got to see the press they use to juice the grapes and the tanks were the wine is fermented. Then we went into the area where the spirits are made and heard about the process. We even got to see and taste some of the rum which just came out of the still. It was incredibly strong, and had almost a hot taste. The next stop on the tour was the room where the barrels are kept for aging.

The final part of the tour was a tasting.  We were each able to taste 6 items from their entire list of wine, spirits, and liqueurs. We decided to share our tastes and in doing so were able to try all but one of the spirits and liqueurs (the Sugar Maple Liqueur which is already a family favorite), plus a few from the wine list. Andrea’s post about Flag Hill includes a detailed description of all that we tasted.

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They had a company store where you could purchase their wines and spirits. The store also had t-shirts, beverage accessories, as well as NH product sections.

The NH Liquor Store carries some of the Flag Hill wines and liqueurs as well as the Moonshine. The only place we know of to purchase the other liquors is at the company store. I am definitely a convert to their vodka, so I really wish that it was available more widely. Hopefully they can increase their offerings at the liquor store soon.

We really enjoyed the tour and tasting. The tour took us through their beautiful grounds and gave us great history of Flag Hill as well as the process of both wine and spirit making. They offer a huge variety of products which can satisfy most people. The event tent further increases their visibility to people who may not otherwise know of them. The tour and tastings is a great way to introduce people to their products as the spirits all have a unique and distinct flavor. This knowledge is important to make the customer recognize that they will be getting a  superior product worthy of a higher price tag. Flag Hill is a great place to visit and offers excellent products.

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

Sea Hagg Distillery

Sea Hagg  is a distillery in North Hampton, NH that specializes in rum. They make their rum using traditional means. It is a bit hard to find; our gps told us we were there a while before we actually were, but it’s worth it to keep looking.  My suggestion is to pay attention to the house numbers and not just follow the gps.

We got to take a tour of where the rum is made. The distillery is located in a strip mall style building so it’s a decent size but definitely not huge. The front of house has They start with molasses from the Cajun Sugar Co-Op, which is located in Louisiana. While it’s not local, we can’t fault them for this as local NH molasses would be hard to come by. They have two different styles of stills. The rum is aged in custom barrels. All of the bottles are hand sealed with wax. This gives each bottle a distinct characteristic and a personal touch. It also makes the bottles more visually attractive.

After the tour we got to sample the two rums that they had; Amber Rum and Blueberry Rum. The Amber Rum had a molasses flavor. It was surprisingly smooth and didn’t have the same bite as some of the big name brands. We thoguht this would be tasty in mixed drinks. The Blueberry Rum had a distinct blueberry flavor. It tasted more like a fresh blueberry taste and not artificial. This would also be good in a mixed drink, but is not as versatile as the Amber Rum.

Sea Hagg has a retail store at their location in North Hampton which sells rum as well as other items such as t-shirts, bags, and glassware. When we were there they had the Amber Rum ($30) and Blueberry Rum ($28). We were also able to find their products at some of the NH Liquor Stores. The liquor store actually offers a greater selection at $27.99 each; Amber Rum, Blueberry Rum, Peach Rum, and Silver Rum. So it was a bit strange that the Amber Rum was more expensive at the distillery than at the liquor store. However we decided that the tour and samples were definitely worth the price differential. For those that may not be able to make it to the distillery, the liquor store is a great option. You can check out what Nh Liquor Stores have in stock online; the quantities are based on what was in stock at the end of business the day before so this can change over the course of the day.

Sea Hagg is a new distillery with a small line of products. I believe that their traditional process and subsequent rich flavors will help to make this a distillery to watch. The price tag is a big difference between this and some of the main stream liquor store competitors. Tastings help to show people the difference in brands and make the higher price tag more worthwhile; so further tasting opportunities should help them to increase their customer base. We will be interested to try any new products that are released in the future and hope they continue with the same trend they have started.

Sea Hagg Distillery
135 Lafayette Road, Unit 9
North Hampton, NH 03862
(603) 379-2274
http://www.seahaggdistillery.com/

I would never have believed that I could find two distilleries so close to home. It has certainly showed me that “look and you shall find” is a good motto to live by. I am very glad to have found some new favorites and know that some of my buying decisions will be different moving forward. I would recommend both of these distilleries as great places to visit, whether both in succession as we did or individually. I am testing out all of our purchases now, so stay tuned for some new summer beverages!

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