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©2014 F. Paul Pacult

Four American Craft Spirits Pioneering Distilleries are inducted into

F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal Hall of Fame Class of 2014!

Germain-Robin (1983) and Craft Distillers, Ukiah, CA (1998)
St. George Spirits, Alameda, CA (1982)
Clear Creek Distillery, Portland, OR (1986)
Charbay Distillery & Winery, St. Helena, CA (1983)

The wizards of St. George Spirits
This year's induction class focuses directly on people and companies rather than individual products as we install four visionary American craft distilleries into the F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal Hall of Fame. These four homegrown distilleries -- Germain-Robin/Craft Distillers, St. George Spirits, Clear Creek Distillery, and Charbay Distillery -- proved to be the pioneering first generation, the trailblazing entities that persevered through the early years of artisanal distilling during the 1980s and early 1990s when acceptance and recognition for non-mainstream spirits were spotty, at best.

Hubert Germain-Robin of
Germain-Robin/Craft Distillers
The maestros involved in the quartet of inducted distilleries are Ansley Coale, Jr. and Hubert Germain-Robin of Germain-Robin, which later morphed into Craft Distillers. Hubert Germain-Robin has since gone on his own as a consultant. Germain-Robin is located in Mendocino County, CA. Jorg Rupf, now retired, and Lance Winters are the wizards of St. George Spirits, which is headquartered in Alameda, CA in the East Bay of San Francisco Bay. Steve McCarthy is the founder and former proprietor of Clear Creek Distillery in Portland, OR. And last, Miles and Marko Karakasevic are the owners/distillers of Charbay Distillery of St. Helena, CA.

Ansley Coale of
Germain-Robin/Craft Distillers
Along the way, each distillery achieved cult-like followings that kept them afloat as they redefined the distillation landscape in North America. Scores of their products have been reviewed since 1991 in the pages of the Spirit Journal and continue to be reviewed as we receive them. The majority has scored well, sometimes even off-the-charts in star ratings, but there have predictably been a few spirits from this quartet of distilleries that have been panned. Their quality arc has been extraordinary, however, and often those products that didn’t quite work were just the result of keenly inventive and intrepid minds that were willing to push boundaries. The beauty of artisans of any discipline is to employ their freedom to play and muse. True genius, as in the case of these four distilleries, must be afforded room to cogitate, create, innovate, and generate.

Steve McCarthy, founder and former
proprietor of Clear Creek Distillery
In 2014, 450 to 500 craft distillers are honing their skills across all 50 of the United States. This remarkable fact alone affirms the notion that Germain-Robin/Craft Distillers, St. George Spirits, Clear Creek Distillery, and Charbay Distillery provided the necessary platform and shone the beacons that guided this vigorous grassroots movement to its current place of influence and impact.

Miles and Marko Karakasevic of
Charbay Distillery
The craft distilleries that followed, like Dan Farber’s Osocalis (early 1990s), Ralph Erenzo’s Tuthilltown Spirits (2005), Kent Rabish’s Grand Traverse (2007), Brian Ellison’s Death’s Door Spirits (2005) and scores more might not have started up at all if it weren’t for the legacy of the four new Hall of Fame inductees.

F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal salutes their induction as the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th members.


  1. Highland Park 18Years Old Single Malt Scotch (Scotland) Class of 2011

  2. Cointreau Liqueur (France) Class of 2011

  3. Midleton Very Rare Blended Irish Whiskey (Ireland) Class of 2011

  4. Nonino Cru Grappa di Monovitigno Picolit (Italy) Class of 2011

  5. Cognac Frapin Extra Grande Champagne Cognac (France) Class of 2011

  6. Tanqueray London Dry Gin (England) Class of 2012

  7. Delamain Reserve de la Famille Grande Champagne Cognac (France) Class of 2012

  8. Evan Williams Vintage Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey/the annual series (USA) Class of 2012

  9. Chivas Regal Gold Signature 18 Years Old Blended Scotch Whisky (Scotland) Class of 2013

  10. Buffalo Trace Distillery Antique Collection/the annual series (USA) Class of 2013

· George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon

· William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon

· Sazerac 18 Years Old Straight Rye

· Thomas H. Handy Straight Rye and

· Eagle Rare 17 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon

   11.  Appleton Estate Reserve Jamaican Rum (Jamaica)
         Class of 2013

   12.  Tequila Don Julio Blanco 100% de Agave (Mexico)
Class of 2013

© F. Paul Pacult
All rights reserved.


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