Damnation Alley Distillery – Belmont MA
Q: What’s smaller than micro?
Q: What’s smaller than nano?
A: Damnation Alley Distillery.
Damnation Alley Distillery, so called because of the nickname of the first one-way street in Boston, is about as small as you can imagine. The distilling room is less than 1000 square feet. They make all their products in just three 26-gallon stills. Their tasting room, small on its own, doubles as an aging room with a handful of 5-gallon oak barrels decorating the room. The entire operation has about fifteen feet of frontage in a modern strip mall under a sign that simply reads “DISTILLERY”.
Despite their size, Damnation Alley makes a lot of different alcohols. Nine were available when I visited and there were two more on the board that were sold out, but it goes way beyond that. Their website lists ten different vodkas and eleven whiskeys. It’s their small size that makes this possible. Little by little, batch by batch, they can create a wide range of spirits. Sadly, you can’t try them all. Massachusetts, which has liberal laws in almost al things but alcohol, will only let you taste an ounce. This means you get four tries of a quarter ounce each. The small theme continues.
The first I tried was the Rye. It was big and strong, the first thing about Damnation Alley that wasn’t small. It is a traditional, high-quality rye, aged for six months and made from Massachusetts grown grains. It is only available in 375 ml bottles, and has a $40 price tag. This puts it in the premium whiskey category, a place it deserves. My next taste was “Nick the Sipper” Vodka. I don’t care for vodka. I find it boring, but I was assured that they left some flavor in it. Sure enough, it wasn’t the odorless, tasteless liquid that most vodka is. There was still some of the flavor from the grains and even a slight nuttiness to it, but it wasn’t for me. As far as vodkas go, it was very good, but even a very good vodka isn’t usually my thing.
The next sample I tried was Mistletoe, a cranberry-rosemary infused whiskey made from their single-malt. No. The vodka isn’t for me, but this isn’t for anyone. Sorry guys, but I just can’t figure out this combination. I took one sip and that was it. I can tell you with certainty that it is the infusion, not the whiskey, because I cleaned the taste out of my mouth with the very respectable single malt. I liked this one. It was smooth with a light finish. It’s priced a little lower than the rye. You can get a full bottle for just $65, well worth it.
Because of their size the proof changes slightly from batch to batch and so bottles are marked with the rarely seen 44.3 or 45.6 ABV. Most of their whiskeys are only available in half-sized bottles and most of their vodkas only in full. (at least right now) Of course they also make gin. I bought a bottle for $40 and will be tasting and discussing it next week.
You won’t find any of their spirits on the shelf in your favorite store just yet. They do distribute to a small group of restaurants, but if you want some for yourself, you will have to visit the distillery. While the space is nothing to get excited over, the people are friendly and it’s worth the trip to try some of these sub-nano-spirits. If you go or if you have tried Damnation Alley, please let me know what you think in the comments.
Damnation Alley Distillery
7 Brighton Street
Belmont, MA 02478