A visit to the Hilton Head Distillery makes an “off the beaten path” trip to Cardinal Road well worth your while.
The Hilton Head Distillery offers all visitors a fantastic experience, whether you are a connoisseur of craft spirits or new to them. You can either totally immerse yourself in the world of craft spirits with the Distillery Tour/Tasting, or just stop by to taste their delicious products. No matter which you choose, you will be tempted to bring home a bottle or two.
Guided by a knowledgeable associate, the distillery tour provides an interactive experience that starts with a quick video about the raw ingredients of rum and its unique place in American history. Next, you move into their impressive production facility, where you will enjoy an engaging learning experience about the art and science that goes into production.
Spirits-making involves two basic scientific principles: the process of fermentation, and the process of distillation.
Fermentation is the addition of yeast, which when added to any source of sugar will convert that sugar into alcohol. Hilton Head Distillery starts by making a “wash,” which is a combination of molasses and water. By adding yeast and nutrients to this mix, the molasses converts to about 8-10% alcohol. The name of this product is “distiller’s beer.”
All alcoholic beverages, including beer and wine, use the process of fermentation. When making beer, the fermentation is a complex multi-stage process. The myriad choices of ingredients Brew Masters can use during their fermentation process are key to fine beer craftsmanship.
Wine makers use the natural sugars in grapes as their fermentation source. Wine is technically finished after the fermentation process but, similar to fine whiskeys, wine must go through a well-monitored aging process to achieve its desired result.
The second scientific process involves heat and vaporization.
As you tour Hilton Head Distillery’s impressive distillation area, you will see how they distill their fine rums and vodka. In short, they take their newly fermented “distiller’s beer” and apply well-controlled heat so the alcohol vapors rise. The vapors athen condense into a high-proof spirit. Their careful distillation process allows them to capture the true essence of their product. But this high-proof distillate is not yet ready to drink.
Hilton Head Distillery’s internationally- trained craftspeople use their professional touch to turn this distillate into their signature products by blending or adding unique flavors and spices. All of their products are available to taste.
Your tasting will include samples of White Rum, Toasted Coconut Rum, Espresso Rum, Spiced Rum and Vodka. You may keep your souvenir shot glass and are welcome to purchase bottles of your favorite products. Please check out hiltonheaddistillery.com to learn more and plan your visit.
By Georgene Mortimer, Island Winery
The perfect bottle of handcrafted artisan wine awaits at Island Winery on Cardinal Road. Complimentary tastings, wine by the glass and cheese platters are available Monday-Saturday from 12:30-5:30 p.m. and Sunday, 12-4 p.m. Call (843) 842-3141 or visit islandwinery.com.