Swill is our bi-monthly column dedicated to liquor, wine, beer, and every other delicious dram that falls under the broader umbrella of booze. But it’s more than just tasting notes scribbled on a cocktail napkin — Swill is about getting outside of your comfort zone, trying new things, and exploring the big, wide world of libations. One week you might catch us halfway through a bottle of single-malt scotch, and the week after that we might be buzzing on some Ugandan moonshine made from bananas. This column is just one big boozy adventure, so grab yourself a glass and join us for another round.
Generally speaking, I am not a fan of flavored whiskey. Nine times out of ten, the added flavor is just a way to mask the taste of a young, low-quality spirit, and the resulting whiskey is awful. But every so often I’ll encounter a bottle that makes me reconsider my stance, and McMenamin’s Aval Pota is one of those whiskies.
If you’re not familiar with McMenamins, allow me to give you the scoop. It’s essentially a chain of breweries, brewpubs, hotels, theaters, and concert venues that are scattered across the northwest. They make their own signature line of craft beer and wine, they have live music events just about every night, and in recent years, they’ve begun distilling their own hooch.
Aval Pota is their latest concoction. Unlike many flavored whiskeys, which start with a sub-par spirit and try to gussie it up with artificial flavorings, this one starts from a base of Edgefield Distillery’s White Dog Whiskey. On top of this solid foundation, pressed Hood River apples, organic brown sugar, and cinnamon are added. The result is a fruity, fragrant apple whiskey that is absolutely perfect for fall.
At a relatively light 33 percent ABV, Aval Pota (named for the Welsh and Old Irish words for “apple” and “pot still,” respectively) is, in my opinion, best taken neat or on the rocks– but also makes a fantastic mixer for all manner of fall cocktails. Head over to McMenamins’ website to find out where you can get your hands on a bottle