Beyond Ballast Point: The Future of Cutwater Spirits

Nine years ago, the founders of Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Yuseff Cherney and Jack White, started distilling liquor as a hobby. You know, standard after-hours fodder for when you’re building one of the most commercially successful craft breweries in the country. Over the years, they started taking their hard liquor more seriously, creating a stable of liquors, canned cocktails, and mixers.

When Ballast Point sold last year to Constellation Brands, a producer and marketer of boozy products like Svedka and Modelo, a steady stream of executives jumped ship to lead what would eventually be branded Cutwater Spirits. The sale of Ballast Point only covered the brewery side of the business, so the distillery was free to break out on its own. Cherney, White, and Earl Kight III, Cutwater’s current chief revenue officer, are among some of the top brass running the new operation.

“We’re the most excited about our Devil’s Share Bourbon and Whiskey,” gushed Kight. “It ages for four years, so the quantity is very limited.”

cutwater spirits making of a bloody mary

If Cutwater Spirit’s open fermentation process isn’t enough to sway Kentucky Bourbon purists, perhaps a 2017 gold medal from the Berlin International Spirits Competition will. Their single malt whiskey received the same honor, and Cutwater was also named California’s best distillery.

The distillery’s money makers, however, are their canned cocktails. Internally referred to as RTEs (ready to enjoy), the cocktails range from flavored vodka sodas to rum and gingers. They also offer two bloody mary cocktails featuring their proprietary mix, which you can purchase separately.

In May 2017, holding steadfast to their San Diego roots, Cutwater Spirits opened a distillery/restaurant space in the same zip code as Ballast Point’s Miramar location. Leading the bar team is Eater’s 2014 Bartender of the Year, Christian Siglin, who offered up a couple of recipes for those less inclined to buy pre-made cocktails.

Dark Thorne

Christian Siglin, Cutwater Spirits, San Diego, CA

Method: Stir all ingredients in a coupe glass and garnish with lemon zest.

Signal Flare

Christian Siglin, Cutwater Spirits, San Diego, CA

Method: Combine all ingredients into glass and then add a large cube of ice and give it a still until your preferred level of dilution. Garnish with orange zest.

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