Craft­ing Spir­its at List Dis­tillery

A story be­hind ev­ery bot­tle at lo­cal dis­tiller

Gulf & Main - - Gulf & Main - BY GINA BIRCH

Craft is where it’s at—craft cock­tails, craft beer and craft spir­its. There are cer­tain big-name pro­duc­ers that con­sumers flock to and prob­a­bly al­ways will, but more and more afi­ciona­dos are em­brac­ing small-batch, lo­cal dis­tillers who have a story be­hind ev­ery bot­tle. Al­though hun­dreds of craft dis­tillers have sprung up around the coun­try, there’s no real def­i­ni­tion of what con­sti­tutes “craft.”

In a cat­e­gory with no reg­u­la­tions, to call your­self “craft,” ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Craft Dis­tillers As­so­ci­a­tion, a com­pany can­not pro­duce more than 100,000 proof gal­lons a year; that’s about 600,000 750-ml bot­tles.

South­west Florida’s new­est dis­tillery eas­ily fits those pa­ram­e­ters. List Dis­tillery opened its doors to the pub­lic last July and has been on a r oll ever since.

The story be­hind the lo­cal busi­ness and its Mr. Tom’s la­bel be­gins in Aus­tria with own­ers Thomas and Re­nate List. Re­nate is part of the Bauer fam­ily, best known for be­ing the ge­nius be­hind the fa­mous Jäger­meis­ter brand.

The spir­its busi­ness is in her blood, but Thomas had to learn— not only from Re­nate, but also by work­ing in a few dis­til­leries af­ter sell­ing his Euro­pean com­pany and mov­ing to Florida.

The List fam­ily now pro­duces 17 fla­vors of rum, vodka, gin and whiskey from its 11,000-square-foot fa­cil­ity on Evans Av­enue in Fort My­ers. It’s the only dis­tillery in the state that is cer­ti­fied or­ganic, ac­cord­ing to Thomas. Made from corn, the vodka is also gluten free and kosher, he adds. The liquors pro­duced here go through char­coal fil­ters seven times, cre­at­ing a clean taste.

An­other fo­cus of pro­duc­tion has been cut­ting calo­ries and su­gar, says Thomas, ex­plain­ing, “A nor­mal bot­tle could have 37 per­cent su­gar. We try to get it down to 8 to 10 per­cent.” The List busi­ness model also de­pends heav­ily on sourc­ing lo­cal in­gre­di­ents and sea­sonal pro­duce for the fla­vored spir­its. When these bot­tles are gone, they’re gone—un­til next sea­son.

“I’m a gin lover,” says Thomas. “The gin for me is very smooth.” Its tra­di­tional fla­vor of ju­niper is not as ag­gres­sive as in some gins, a bit rounder and soft. The base of Mr. Tom’s Gin is six times dis­tilled vodka, “so it’s al­ready a very high-end product to start with,” says Thomas.

While Amer­i­cans have been in­un­dated with fla­vored vod­kas, he says fla­vored gins have been get­ting the hype in Europe, so he jumped on the band­wagon. Calling the com­pany’s Rasp­berry Mint Gin “al­most a master work, dis­tilled eight times, then blended with the rasp­ber­ries,” Thomas sug­gests drink­ing it over ice or gar­nish­ing with a dark choco­late stick and frozen rasp­ber­ries.

The Gin­ger Lime Gin has ju­niper at the st art, a lit­tle spice from Chi­nese gin­ger in the mid-palate, and the lime adds a clean fin­ish.

To make the com­fort­ing Ap­ple Pie Rum, List Dis­tiller y used 600 pounds of golden de­li­cious ap­ples; a bit of cin­na­mon and orange peel round out the fla­vors.

Par­tic­u­larly pleased with the Ha­banero Honey Whiskey, Thomas says, “Here you have ex­plo­sion of beautiful fla­vors, the smell honey.” In­struct­ing me to let it sit on my tongue for a few more sec­onds, he says with en­thu­si­asm, “The hab anero comes in and gives a it a kick, not too much. The honey wipes it out, and it’s all back to nor­mal.”

The Caffé Latte Liqueur is a best seller: creamy, with rum and a lit­tle espresso. It’s not as strong or heavy as many cream liqueurs on the mar­ket, pre­sent­ing a lighter mouth feel while re­tain­ing the fla­vors. In honor of Re­nate’s her­itage, there is the Herbal Liquor: a lit­tle lighter and not as sweet as its in­spi­ra­tion, Jäger­meis­ter.

Still to come are new fla­vors of gin and a line of dessert liqueur in­tended to ap­peal to women. List will also in­tro­duce bar­rel-aged whiskey next year. The 100 per­cent corn-based spirit was made at the dis­tillery last year and then sent to Ken­tucky where it’s kept in bar­rels for two years.

The Lists love art, and it is ev­i­dent in ev­ery­thing from the de­sign of the Mr. Tom’s la­bels to the tasting room and even the dis­tillery it­self. The brand isn’t in many lo­cal bars, yet. You’ll no­tice it on the shelf by the clever la­bel of a face­less man sport­ing a vin­tage top hat, eye­glass mon­o­cle and han­dle­bar mus­tache.

Tours at List Dis­tillery are of­fered by ap­point­ment, while the tasting room is open Mon­day through Satur­day.

The Lists love art, and it is ev­i­dent in ev­ery­thing from the de­sign of the Mr. Tom’s la­bels to the tasting room and even the dis­tillery it­self.

Gina Birch is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor, a lover of good food and drink, and a well-known me­dia per­son­al­ity in South­west Florida.

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