Portland’s distillery scene, already a proud tradition in the city, recently got a new addition with The Aimsir Distilling Co. Sharing a building with Culmination Brewing on NE Oregon Street, Aimsir makes whiskey and gin and serves full cocktails as well as a full menu of food inspired by Irish cooking.
Aimsir, which roughly translates to time, moment, and weather in Irish Gaelic, comes from husband and wife duo Christine and Steve Hopkins. Though neither comes from a background in alcoholic spirits distillation, the two have a background in chemistry and a shared love for Oregon’s wine, spirits, and beer scene. “I’ve distilled a ton of stuff before,” says Steve Hopkins. “Just nothing you’d ever wanna drink.” However, after around six or seven years of planning and research, the Hopkins are ready to serve Portlander’s some spirits that are plenty drinkable. Preparations for opening the distillery included working vineyard harvests and corresponding with distillers like Andy Garrison, the head distiller for Stone Barn Brandyworks. After purchasing a custom still from Bridgetown Brew Systems in Gresham (who also constructed the still at Shine Distillery and Grill on N Williams), the pair quietly opened Aimsir Distilling last December.
The distillery opened with a modest portfolio that includes, like many others in town, a gin. However, Aimsir’s gin distinguishes itself with a heady bouquet of rose, peach, and raspberry. Additionally, the pair are working on a rotating set of seasonal gins, the first of which will be released in April: a “rosé gin” with a wine-based distillate, tinged with local wines as well as other botanicals that will enhance the wine notes.
For whiskey, Aimsir currently sells a wheated-bourbon sourced from a large producer, then aged in-house. The distillery offers bottled single barrel expressions, as well as single barrel flights so that visitors can taste the distinctive notes that individual barrels give to whiskey. Also available is a cold-brew bourbon, where they cut the bourbon with cold brew coffee from Junior’s Roasted Coffee. The team is currently distilling its own whiskeys, however: down the line, Steve Hopkins says they’ll release an Oregon single malt whiskey as well as an Irish style, though both of those are a few years off.
The distillery itself is in a warehouse space previously home to the Oregon Mead and Cidery, directly next door to Culmination Brewing. The team currently offers some limited seating indoors and some standing room outdoors on barrels, where visitors can sample spirits and order full-sized cocktails as well as food items like pork hand pies and macaroni and cheese from chef Tobias Hogan, who previously co-owned Eat: An Oyster Bar. The menu is set to change with the seasons.
Those who don’t feel like sticking around can also find the food and spirits available to-go, including occasional meal packages for holidays. They can also take their food over to Culmination to enjoy with some beers. Eventually, once COVID rates have declined enough to return to a semblance of normalcy, Steve Hopkins says there will be seating for around 40, including a bar with a window to the distillery room, a relaxed seated area, and a small dining room area with tables; at save the bar, all ages will be welcome.
At the moment, Aimsir’s spirits are only available to purchase from the tasting room, but should be making their way to local liquor stores soon.
- Aimsir Distilling Co. [Official]
- Culmination Brewing [Official]
- Shine Distillery and Grill [Official]