Tampa got its first introduction to the city's newest craft distillery, Dark Door Spirits, during the second annual Whiskey Tampa Foxtrot on October 18-20.
The distillery's Dark Door portends exactly what you might think.
"Like that dark door at the bottom of the stairs or at the end of the alley, opening one of our bottles should make you a little nervous," said Tony Miller. "You're a little afraid, but on the other side, you're really glad you did because you're rewarded with an experience that really gets your senses firing."
Miller said this was exactly the intent when he and his fellow managing partners, Matt Allen, Brandon Marshall and Steve Clamp, created the brand.
Attendees had the opportunity to taste more than 200 whiskeys at the event including Dark Door Spirits' two inaugural spirits- the Spirit of Prohibition, which is a gin and the Spirit of IPA, which is a whiskey.
The spirits are both wrapped in the brand's dark black label to represent the metaphorical, scary dark door at the end of the stairs, but according to Miller its quite the opposite.
The Spirit of Prohibition traces back to the Prohibition days where gin was soaked in botanicals for weeks. This process softens the gin making it more tasteful than its usual harsh, strong taste, and creates a honey colored gin.
It's other spirit, the Spirit of IPA, is a whiskey distilled from IPA beer from Safety Harbor's Crooked Thumb and then blended with three-year aged corn whiskey and put in a small barrel for six months. This results in a product with a hint of vanilla and sweet dried fruit characteristics of a classic corn whiskey.
Tampa is home to a number of craft beer breweries, but Dark Door Spirits believe its focus on crafting its spirits sets them apart.
"A lot of people have done the beer route, but we wanted to go with the spirits route because it's already somewhat exploded but not nearly to the extent of craft brewery," Miller said.
"A lot of people particularly millennials are moving from the craft brewery, and it's a market looking to expand."
Although Miller has not confirmed where Dark Door's products will be available for purchase, he predicts they will have a space for a gift shop to hold tastings, tours and sell its spirits within the next six months.
They're also working to have the brand in on and off-premise locations including premiere liquor stores like ABC Fine Wine & Spirits as well as restaurants and bars.
Suggested retail price on the Spirit of IPA is $49.99 and the Spirit of Prohibition is $39.99. For more information visit darkdoordistillery.com.
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