Fair Game Beverage Company

Tucked away just outside Pittsboro, NC is a great little distillery that is making fortified wines and spirits.  The name of the place is Fair Game Beverage Company.  We made a visit during their Spirit Release party.  We’re talking distilled spirits here, not the metaphysical spirits.  Chris Jude, the head distiller, gave us a detailed tasting of his fortified wines.  Also as part of the festivities, we tasted the two new spirits which were incredibly fresh and unique.

 

The distillery itself is unique in its own right.  The drive up to the building leads you down a winding road lined by tall pine trees.  When the trees clear, you see what appears to be a marsh-like field and a few industrial buildings.  One of the buildings looks like a greenhouse and you wonder, is this it?  Then you turn again and see the sign pointing you toward a larger complex of warehouse-style buildings.  The setting is awesome and really plays into the feel of the culture at Fair Game Beverage Company.  Inside the complex is strikingly different from the outside approach.  There’s almost a steampunk appearance, but it’s still able to keep a modern feel to it.

 

Our first stop was to taste the new spirits:

No’Lasses – This fun take on a molasses rum is made with sweet sorghum that Chris grows right down the road.  The drink itself was remarkably smooth, with a hint of toast that leaves you feeling nice and warm.

Apple Brandy – A traditional style apple brandy, but made from four different types of apples.  The apples were strong on the nose, and then briefly carried through to the flavors.  Again, this one was remarkably smooth and had a slight apple peel finish.

 

After tasting the spirits, we got to the business of tasting the fortified wines.  Chris was great about explaining the details about each wine, specifically what went into each wine and the thought process that went into them.  A few notes about the wines first.  Chris partnered up with a local vineyard to source most of his grapes and wines.  Whenever possible, Chris tries to source within North Carolina or the southeast.  Bourbon barrels are used for the aging process in a few of their wines.  This imparts a nice toasty flavor and adds to the complexity of the wines.

When we were there, we tasted five different fortified wines:

Tipper Apple – This cider based apple wine contains apples from Hendersonville, NC and fortified with their own apple brandy.  The flavors are rich in caramel and quite smooth. The bourbon barrel adds to the richness of this wine and make it an easy to approach drink, great with a meal or as a treat after.

Two Step White – This Spanish style aperitif is similar to an Oloroso Sherry.  This wine combines Seyval Blanc and Chardonnay from the Haw River Valley and brings in some imported Palomino grapes.  Bourbon barrels and Oloroso chips add to the oaky nature of this wine.  The Seyval and Chardonnay blend bring up some honeysuckle and floral notes that play off the oak backbone.  The finish has a slight hint of tamarind, but eventually finishes clean.

Tipper Peach – This small batch wine was light yet flavorful.  The peaches were sourced from the Carolina Sandhills.  The first sip was slightly tart, but developed into a well-rounded wine, easy to drink and delicious.

Ferris Red – A port style wine made of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin and Norton (all Haw River Valley), then back sweetened with a touch of Touriga.  Bourbon barrels again take this wine to the next level.  The nose is fruity (a la Chambourcin) with a notes of plums and spices.  It’s not as heavy as you might expect, but it is very even from beginning to the finish.

Tipper Scuppernong – Our first reaction when we saw this was “We have to try this.”  We’re not normally Scuppernong fans, but this may be an exception.  Chris takes some Scuppernong wine and then makes a brandy.  Then he adds the brandy back to the wine to fortify it.  This is definitely a game changer.  Normally, Scuppernong has a grapey and almost fuzzy nose with flavors to match.  This wine has a slightly grapey nose, but then has a mild flavor due to the brandy cutting the acidic nature of the grapes creating a nicely balanced wine.

 

If these wines sound appealing to you (which they should, as they’re so unlike anything you’ll find in NC), then you should plan a visit.  Their website lists locations where you can buy their wines, but you can always visit the tasting room and buy the fortified wines there.

Fair Game Beverage Company is located at 220 Lorax Lane in Pittsboro, NC

Photo credits: Wine Glasses and Wine Bottles by Jonathan Young.  Spirit Bottles by Tamela Schwerin.

Posted by Matt Kemberling

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