Now that spring is officially here, we love to get out and explore the North of Boston region. This week, while out and about researching local breweries and distilleries, we took a field trip to Ryan and Wood Distilleries in Gloucester.
Ryan and Wood Distilleries is truly a family affair (we were lucky to meet the Ryan family – Kathy, Bob, and Doug – on our tour). Family-owned, their passion for distilling is contagious and their knowledge of everything from distilling and its history, Gloucester, and tourism is astounding. The family’s roots go back a long way in the fishing industry. However, seeing a decline in the industry, the family wanted to move over to manufacturing. Kathy Ryan, our awesome tour guide, explained that the family looked towards manufacturing as a non-fishing blue collar industry for Gloucester.
Post-prohibition, few small distilleries re-opened in the United States. Americans had grown used to having to import their liquor from overseas distilleries (today, over 90% of liquor in the US is made overseas) and the distillation process was extremely regulated and difficult to break into (due to the fact that improperly-distilled liquor can be lethal) In fact, in 2006, Ryan and Wood received the 73rd license to distill in the U.S. since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 (the first on the North Shore!). Distillation remains a small industry and, today, there are a little over 400 distilleries in the country.
During our tour, it was obvious that a lot of hard work and care goes into all of Ryan and Wood’s products. And, it’s well worth it; their products – Folly Cove Rum, Knockabout Gin, Beauport Vodka, and Rye Whiskey – are fabulous. The products are authentically hand-crafted with only the finest ingredients and reflect and recall the beauty and history of Gloucester.
We cannot recommend a visit to Ryan and Wood Distilleries enough. The free one-hour tours are absolutely fantastic and it’s fascinating to see such a neat product made – from grains, to distillation, to the aging process in giant barrels, to the hand-bottling and packaging. The tours are also super-informative – we have pages of interesting tidbits we could share, but it’s so much more fun to take the tour than read about it! We will say though that one of the highlights is seeing the massive, 17-foot copper still custom-built in Germany. With Father’s Day coming up in next month, a trip to Ryan and Wood would round out a fun afternoon spent with Dad.
Tours are available Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 10am to 1pm. Ryan and Wood also offers private and group tours – please call (978) 281-2282 for reservations.