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Portland Is Losing a Unique Local Distillery

Townshend’s Distillery plans on shutting down production before the year ends

Tea-based spirits at Townshend’s Distillery
Townshend’s line of tea spirits
Townshend’s Distillery/Official

Townshend’s Distillery, the local company that made exclusively tea-based spirits, is halting production and closing shop by December 22. The company made the announcement on Instagram last night, explaining that Townshend’s couldn’t afford a necessary move into new facilities: “Our little old building in the Brooklyn neighborhood is no longer suitable for our operations and we are unable to sustain the exorbitant cost of relocating to a new facility,” the post reads.

View this post on Instagram

To all our friends & supporters, It is with a heavy heart that we are announcing that we are closing our doors and ceasing production for the foreseeable future as of December 23rd. Five years ago, we set out on an ambitious journey to create a unique portfolio of spirits, created from and inspired by our love of tea and botanicals. We took a step into the unknown, carving our own niche in the spirits world, featuring novel and unusual ingredients, and using an unprecedented production method. And then we crossed our fingers… And we found you! We found a community of adventurous folks who were willing to step into the unknown with us and to try new expressions of Old-World styles of spirits, unbound by the well-worn path of tradition. For you who have supported us, we love you and thank you. You watched us progress from a startup distillery with a single black tea liqueur to what we are today: innovators, genre benders, and explorers of a new frontier of botanical spirits. Knowing that our products lean toward the esoteric and novel, we are grateful to have found you: the bold, the passionate, the expressive, those with a gaze to the horizon. Your unflinching support was the foundation that made all of this possible in the first place. Our closure comes as we begin to stretch the seams of our facility. Our little old building in the Brooklyn neighborhood is no longer suitable for our operations and we are unable to sustain the exorbitant cost of relocating to a new facility. This isn’t goodbye; it’s simply a ‘see you later.’ At this moment, we go into the wilderness, to look for new investment, search for a new home, and stoke the fire that drives our creativity. Together, we have all built something incredibly special and dear. We look forward to the future when we are able to reopen and once again continue to explore what could be, instead of what has always been. If you’re able to come by, we would love to see you at our tasting room or at one of the select Portland events we’ll be participating in through the month of December. We relish the opportunity to have one last drink together and to help stock your cellar. All the best - stay adventurous.

A post shared by Townshend’s Distillery (@townshendsdistillery) on

Open in 2015 by Matt Thomas of Townshend’s Tea and Brew Dr., the distillery — originally called Thomas and Sons — made its spirits by distilling kombucha. Its line of amari and liquors continually changed and evolved, currently including a Pacific Northwest fernet, a gin, and an herbaceous Bluebird Alpine Liqueur. Despite popularity with Portland bartenders and local drinkers, its production stayed relatively small, with the size of its team never breaking into the double digits.

While the Instagram post reads: “We look forward to the future when we are able to reopen and once again continue to explore what could be, instead of what has always been,” head distiller Seth O’Malley says the closure is permanent. “We as individuals will come back and start something new,” he clarifies.

O’Malley feels optimistic and grateful as Townshend’s Distilling draws to a close, and plans to stay in the spirits world with a few undisclosed opportunities already available to him. “I am deeply, deeply grateful for the people of Portland,” he says. “I don’t think our distillery could have been possible anywhere else. Our devotees, by nature, embody many of my favorite qualities: They’re adventurous and voracious for new experiences, approaching the novel and unknown with curiosity and eagerness to understand rather than retreating to familiarity.”

The distillery’s Brooklyn neighborhood tasting room, located at 4211 SE Milwaukie Avenue, will be open from noon to 7 p.m. on the weekends until the distillery closes.

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