A customer recommended that I take a trip down the gorge to try out a new distillery in Hood River. Camp 1805 is parked in a little industrial complex just a stone’s throw from the HRD plant right on the Columbia river. Position wise you would not think that there would be much in the way of restaurant or retail in that part of the town. Most of the commerce seems to go on in the south bank side as the town rises up the hill.
Given their location I suppose it was no surprise that they didn’t actually open until 3pm. So the girlfriend and I made a day of it, driving down the gorge taking photos and exploring hidden gems until afternoon rolled around. The site is actually a bar, which is different than many of the tasting rooms in Portland but encouraging as it means the bartender is going to be well versed in what kinds of cocktails go well with their products.
They were open promptly at 3, which is refreshing in this business where things can sometimes be lax. Things were quiet since we were effectively waiting for them to open and it was the middle of the week.
The decor is very nice looking and new. Their selection behind the bar was heavy on major labels with a good selection of mixers but lacking in the depth of a Kask or oven & shaker.
Their tasting flight included four offerings. From what I gather their small batch nature means that the proof on some of these varies from batch to batch with 80 being the baseline and the end product going up to at least 93.
Endurance White Whiskey
Whiskey is a curious duck, the legal requirements say that it must be barreled but not that it must be charred or aged for any length of time. For this reason white dogs always feel like a cheat to me. This one spends all of a minute in an unchared barrel before heading to bottling. The result is clean and has the flavors of the heavy wheat in the grain bill without the oak to temper or tame the alcohol flavors. It wasn’t a biter for all that the version I was drinking was 93 proof. I can see this getting much better with time and oak. I’m not a big fan of white dogs so take my opinion with a lot of salt. 4/10
Mt Hood Vodka
A french wheat vodka purchased elsewhere and then cut with local water and bottled. This was similar to a grey goose in both flavor and character. At 80 proof I wasn’t surprised with the content but neither was I really blown away. 5/10 – nothing much new to see here.
When I first tasted this I thought I was drinking whiskey. The flavor is quite potent, which again might come from the higher proof nature of some of the offerings. The flavor was good for a silver but not quite as soft as say Cpt. Morgan White. 6/10
This is the true standout of the ones that I tried. There wasn’t any information about it on their website so I’m stuck with what I learned while I was there. Their backbone is aged in Yellow Rose Bourbon barrels until it is ready. Barrel aging is a tricky process when you’re not using new barrels, the flavors in the wood already can play as much of a role as the size of the barrel in how long it needs to age to get the right flavor. The batch I tasted was not really a dark rum but has some very good flavors to it. 8/10