Most people would consider me behind the curve when it comes to alcohol consumption and that is particularly true when it comes to whiskey. Until I was 35 I had only had whiskey once in a terrible Irish Coffee at an undisclosed bowling location. At 35, my family got the opportunity to visit Ireland. I know where your mind just went: the Jameson Distillery or one of the many whiskey tastings throughout the country. Nope. At the airport on the way out of Dublin there were free samples and that is how I discovered, I love whiskey! Fast forward two years and I was cruising Groupon for something to do with my awesome husband without the children only to find a few whiskey distillery tour options. Still 630 appealed to me the most and I’m so glad we gave it a try! (Tours are available most Saturdays at $7 a person)
Located on 4th street, you can see the ballpark and the arch from the parking lot, solidly placing you next to St. Louis’s biggest icons. Once inside you are immediately greeted by a long bar with beautiful St. Louis etchings, most memorably the arch with wheat at the base. Commanding your attention behind the bar are two different sized, custom made stills.
In front of the stills is where owner David Weglarz began the tour, walking customers through the distilling process. In all of his conversation with the tour group, David’s passion and expertise for distilling was obvious, along with his love of St. Louis.
I had just figured out the significance of the name Still 630 a few days ago and David confirmed and expanded on it. The arch is 630 ft wide and high, which means on June 30th every year there is a celebration at the arch and at Still 630, which also happened to open its doors for the first time on June 30th, 2013. Everything about the distillery is St. Louis and Missouri based, from Lake of the Ozark barrels, Missouri wheat, rye, and corn, and as David emphasized, the weather. The wild Missouri temperature swings expand and contract the barrel causing the spirits to soak in the wood, breathe, and go back into the wood. The labels on the barrels spoke of David’s professional and family milestones sealed in a time capsule to be enjoyed later. There’s something magical about imagining opening a barrel after 20 years of looking at it every day and remembering what happened the day the barrel was sealed.
When the tasting was about to start David introduced his wall full of jars he aptly calls his “library,” as he pulls from different resources for his creations. He then described the gin, rum, and whiskey we would choose from to taste. I started with the gin as he suggested. This was my first taste of gin and I quite enjoyed Volstead’s Folly with all its floral flavors. It was like drinking a yummy bouquet that warms the throat on the way down. Next I tried the Rallypoint rye whiskey and again I was impressed with the complexity of flavor and the characteristic whiskey taste I love. Lastly, I sampled the Breakfast Brew, Big Jake, which is a collaboration with local coffee roaster Kaldi’s. As promised, I definitely tasted strong coffee and whiskey! I particularly enjoyed the label on the Breakfast Brew, which features David’s dog Big Jake drinking his morning Joe.
In the end I walked out with a bottle of Rallypoint, two whiskey glasses, a lot more knowledge about the distilling process, and feeling like I got to know David. I will try to make it back for one of their first Friday events, featuring handcrafted cocktails and a free tasting of new spirits and I encourage you to do the same!