Pairing Eastside Whiskey With Cigars


There are fewer things in life that go better together than a fine whiskey and a bold cigar. The oak and smoke flavor profiles are a match made in distiller’s heaven. The actual process of bringing the pairing to life revolves solely around preference, but when you start off with an expertly crafted whiskey, then you’re already on the right track. We’ve put together a list of cigar couplings that bring out the nuances of our whiskeys while showcasing a truly delicious flavor profile. 

Grab your cutter, lighter, and a glass and let’s get started!

Barrel Hitch American Whiskey 

  • “Smells like sweet corn and husks, dry hay, grains and a hint of green apple. And it drinks a bit peppery, with corn prominent on the front palate, drying out to light wood and licorice.” ~ Mel Heim, Master Distiller & Blender

Cigar Pairing: Oliva Series G

  • This medium-bodied Nicaraguan cigar is a true palate-pleaser. Perfectly balanced and amazingly priced, notes of coffee and roasted nuts compliment the black pepper and green apple in the Barrel Hitch. It’s also a great introductory cigar and won’t break your wallet. 

Burnside West End Blend

  • Burnside West End Blend is a meticulous blend of American whiskies ranging in age and mash bills with a kiss of toasted Oregon Oak to make a vibrant, earthy sipper at an accessible proof and price. 

Cigar Pairing: La Gloria Cubana

  • Created by the cigar guru E.P. Carillo, the La Gloria Cubana showcases an array of hand-chosen filters all brought together in a Connecticut Broadleaf or Ecuadorian wrapper. Packing a ton of flavor, cedar and leather notes bring out the honeyed sweetness and subtle citrus in the West End Blend. 

Burnside Oregon Oaked Bourbon 

  • Finished in Garryana oak casks, our Burnside Oregon Oaked Bourbon showcases a hints of peach and allspice with a lingering finish of toasted oak. The Oregon Oaked is unique flavor experience like no other – spiced, sweet, balanced and full-bodied. 

Cigar Pairing: Alec Bradley Magic Toast 

  • Rich and smooth, the Magic Toast is jam-packed with layers of bitter chocolate and oak, making it a pure treat for every cigar lover. The bold flavors create a perfect accompaniment for our Oregon Oak blend; accentuating the depth of the whiskey and bringing out the caramel nuances supporting the overall prominent oak flavors. 

Burnside Oregon Oaked Rye

  • A delicious blend of straight rye and straight whiskies ranging in age, the Burnside Oregon Oaked Rye is a one-of-a-kind rye with finished in Garryana casks. It's our first venture into rye and it was worth the wait.

Cigar Pairing: Camacho Nicaraguan Barrel Aged

  • Coming out of the gate swinging, the Camacho Barrel Aged is unapologetically bold, just like the Oregon Oaked Rye. The rye’s toffee sweetness cools down the Camacho’s potent flavors of black pepper, leather, and spice. This pairing is all about sweet and salty, bitter and creamy, and the opposites that bring out the best in each other. 

Burnside Goose Hollow Reserve

  • Burnside Goose Hollow Reserve is a small batch expression of straight bourbon whiskies that are expertly blended then aged for 70 days in Garryana Casks for a South meets West Bourbon unlike any other.

Cigar Pairing: Padron 1926 Anniversary

  • There is a reason why the Padron 1926 is considered to be one of the perennial favorites to win cigar of the year. The expertly chosen Nicaraguan tobacco highlights the very best of cigar construction and flavor development. Elegant and sophisticated, the Padron is the ideal companion for the Goose Hollow Reserve, elevating the notes of oak, gourmet vanilla, and ripe summer plum. Do yourself a favor, and try this one for yourself. 

Burnside Buckman Reserve Bourbon 

  • Our Burnside Buckman expression is a celebration of our 10 year anniversary and the newest member of our highly acclaimed Burnside Whiskey family. We’ve sourced the best aged bourbons in the country and mellowed them in our Quercus Garryana casks to create a one-of-a-kind premium bourbon experience.

Cigar Pairing: Drew Estate Liga Privada #9

  • Bold, balanced, and beautiful, Drew Estate’s Liga Privada #9 is the apex of craftsmanship in the cigar world. Rich earthy tones brought out by the dark Oscuro wrapper round out into a slightly sweet finish. The wide range of enticing flavors creates the perfect canvas for the Buckman Reserve Bourbon to show off. The floral undertones and slightly sweet brown sugar profile of the Buckman mingles with the elegant cigar bringing together oak and smoke in a truly uniquely developed experience.

Ahoy! Rethink Your Understanding of Rum Produced in the U.S. with these Pairings


Made from sugarcane and its byproducts, like molasses, rum has been making cocktails better, and pirate life worth singing about, well before it’s first historical mention in 1654. Spanning cultures and countries, rum’s versatility and appeal make it the perfect foundation for cocktails, straight up, or chilled with a couple ice cubes. But what do you pair with this island-inspired spirit? Read on to find out.

Below Deck Spiced Rum

This rich amber rum packs a punch of spice that mellows into undertones of Mexican vanilla, citrus and cinnamon; reminiscent of an old-fashioned cola. The specific blend of whole spices is like taking a trip around the world in one sip. This is a true spiced rum, real ingredients infused with premium silver rum and without added sugar.


  • Jamaican Jerk Chicken Sandwich - with tangy slaw

  • Smoked Gouda - it’s very weird and very satisfying

  • Grilled pineapple rings with vanilla whip. Yep, drool….

  • Ahi Poke Bowl - rice, raw fish, raw veggies, plantains, sesame and seaweed. This is our favorite pairing. All of the Caribbean flavors complement the varying notes of the rum. Even the minuscule sesame seeds enhance otherwise unnoticed nuttiness of the rum. Total umami.

“The rum grabs at your mouth and tongue – a tasty blend of warmth, zest and heat – and the quality of the rum shines through. Aromatic notes of burnt sugar, allspice, toffee, cinnamon, candied ginger, and molasses wash over the palate with a pleasant aftertaste reminiscent of a traditional cola." 

- Mel Heim, Master Distiller

Below Deck Silver Rum

This unique blend of Puerto Rico and Jamaican style rums combine natural sweetness with funky fresh fruit. The result is a not overly busy rum and pleasantly light-bodied. Keeping with tradition there is NO ADDED SUGAR to this spirit post distillation. We love this rum in cocktails for its versatility and bonus ester content.


  • Cornmeal okra - a traditional dish in Barbados, the earthy okra is light and mild, perfect for a silver rum

  • Coconut - cake, pie, cookie; all excellent with a light rum accompaniment

  • Seasonal mango and citrus salads - papaya, plantain and lime with a sprinkle of salt is heaven

  • Manchego Cheese - yup, cheese and rum go together like chips and dip.

"Velvety, medium body rum with a sweep of tropical fruit like plantain and candied lime paired with anise, gum tree and octane minerals. Below Deck Silver Rum has a light cane flavor that is not overly sweet and not overly alcoholic with a unique balanced flavor."

- Mel Heim, Master Distiller/Blender

Hue-Hue Coffee Rum

Collaborating with Portland Roasting Company, Hue-Hue Coffee Rum (pronounced way-way) showcases the single-origin, free-trade coffee from Guatemala and our signature silver rum. Smooth, velvety, and slightly sweet, this cold-brew coffee rum bridges the gap between bartenders and baristas. 


  • Cinnamon bun - the pungent cinnamon draws out vanilla subtleties

  • Blueberry bran muffin with flaked sea salt - tart berries and bread are great with Central American grown arabica beans. Volcanic soil and earthy grains…mmmm.

  • Grilled chicken with raspberry glaze - savory and sweet are perfectly paired in this dish that make it a hearty pairing. (or smoke the chicken to elevate the roasted notes)

  • Extra aged cheddar - after dinner treat; cream added to coffee introduces fat and cuts through acidity, this is a nice, sharp cheese that rolls well with the light roast.

"Expressive opening notes of low octane alcohol immediately leading to creamy, semi-sweet chocolate and low acidity coffee beans. The rum lingers on the sides of the palate with shy vanilla notes and essences of demerara sugar."

- Mel Heim, Master Distiller

Visit a Tasting Room and Support Craft Spirits


Portland is the land of towering trees, endless hiking trails, and some of the best craft distilleries in the country. For years the Pacific Northwest has been touted for our hop-heavy IPAs, quirky breweries, and award-winning wine country, leaving the distillery culture left with little share of the spotlight. Within the last decade, there has been an emergence of attention and pride within Portland’s craft distilling world, and throughout the U.S. We’re happy to say we’ve been a part of it all since 2003.  

But why visit a distillery tasting room?

  • See and taste spirits where they are produced. Some distilleries offer tours. 

  • Talk to distillers, tasting room employees, and people who are the most passionate about the product.

  • Distilleries often release one-off and special releases in the tasting room. Be the first to know about what’s new and hot in craft distilling.

  • They say liquor is an elixir — meet like-minded people who love craft spirits as much as you do. 

  • Some cities like Portland have a “passport” book for tracking your tours, along with discounts. 

  • Depending on which state the distillery is located, they may offer cocktails for you to experience the spirits in cocktail form in addition to straight up.

If you haven’t visited one of our four tasting rooms in the Portland area that are each uniquely designed to evoke the style, history, and vibe of their surrounding community, we not only promote our Portland roots, but we strive to celebrate the neighborhoods and landmarks that have been a part of the brand since the beginning. 

Enough about us though, you can visit tasting rooms all over Portland when you visit tasting rooms in Distillery Row. Cities across the U.S. have similar distillery districts where distilleries are coming together to promote the craft industry through tours, events, and tastings.

Of all of the reasons to visit a craft tasting room, the chance to taste through some seasonal or limited edition offerings that most liquor stores won’t have the chance to carry tops our list. For instance, in our tasting rooms during the holiday season you can taste through our line of Holiday Liqueurs, Peppermint, Spiced, and Eggnog. Since they only come out once a year, our tasting rooms become the hub of our holiday offerings. 

We also get the chance to work on some amazing collaborations that produce such a limited run, that the products never have a chance to hit the liquor store shelves before they’re gone. Just like one of our favorites, the Eastside Labs Gin, the tasting rooms will be the first (sometimes the only) spot to have it. 

The Eastside tasting rooms have been a part of the Portland landscape for over ten years, highlighting our love of the distilling world. Everyone who has had the chance to sip through our spirits, seek the advice of one of our trained brand ambassadors, or simply run into grab their favorite expression our Burnside Whiskey, has had the chance to find their go-to spot for craft spirits. Now it’s time to venture out and immerse yourself in all that distillery tasting rooms have to offer!

It's Cold Brew Season: Mix Up the Brunch Line Cocktail with HUe-Hue Coffee Rum

The great poet Anonymous once said “Humanity runs on coffee,” and we couldn’t agree more. Coffee is a time-honored tradition that spans cultures, creeds, and borders, bringing friends together and ideas to life. So the question is, how do you take a nearly perfect liquid and highlight its best qualities with the addition of alcohol? Our Master Distiller, Mel Heim took on the task of doing that, fusing high-quality ingredients without over compensating. The resulting marriage is our slightly caffeinated Hue-Hue Cold Brewed Coffee Rum, or, the shortened Hue-Hue (pronounced way-way).

Hue-Hue is built on the foundation of free-trade, single-estate shade grown coffee beans grown at the Finca El Paternal Estate in Huehuetenango, Guatemala and imported to Portland Roasting Company for a signature light roast. Starting off with premium coffee allows for less interference from adjuncts that manipulate taste. This selected coffee is layered with slightly sweet nuances that complement our Puerto-Rican and Jamaican sourced rums.

Look, it’s happy beans.

Look, it’s happy beans.

"Expressive opening notes of low octane alcohol immediately leading to creamy, semi-sweet chocolate and low acidity coffee beans. The rum lingers on the sides of the palate with shy vanilla notes and essences of Demerara sugar."

- Mel Heim, Master Distiller/Blender

First and foremost, Hue-Hue is an expression of high-quality small-batch cold brewed coffee backed by an award-winning blend of silver rums. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE COFFEE. Working closely with Portland Roasting Company allows Heim to harness the expertise of the local coffee gurus who seek and find the best varieties and farms. The nuttiness of the Arabic beans grown at the Finca El Paternal Estate are perfect for capturing rich and smooth complexity through the slow cold-brew process.

Eastside’s commitment to creating a truly unique coffee-forward spirit goes beyond just leaving out flavor and color fillers including but not limited to corn syrup, grain neutral spirit, extracts and additives; but also omitting harmless additions such as cane sugar as sweetener. Coffee spirits do not have to be liqueurs - that’s what’s revolutionary about this spirit. Choosing free-trade single-origin beans means that Eastside is also able to help preserve and nurture jobs for coffee growers in Guatemala. Building sustainable relationships not only serves to further quality and consistency with Hue-Hue, but also generates positive opportunities for global relations.  

The beauty of Hue-Hue translates into the cocktail world perfectly. Eastside worked with local bartenders to develop the Brunch Line Cocktail to showcase the monumentally awesome flavor of Hue-Hue. The bold cold-brew coffee is complemented by the sweetness of maple syrup and bitter earthiness of Italian Averna jiving with a spritz of bubbly water that is perfect for a Saturday or Sunday morning before a big brunch. Part coffee, part digestif and part breakfast (with the egg!), this mix is a weekend delight.

Here's how to make The Brunch Line cocktail.


  • 2 oz Hue-Hue Coffee Rum

  • .75 oz Averna

  • .5 oz maple syrup

  • 1 egg white

  • 3 - 4 oz sparkling water

  • lemon twist

Combine Hue-Hue, Averna, maple syrup, and an egg white in an empty shaker. Shake hard without ice for 25-30 seconds to really froth up the egg white (this is called a dry shake). Toss in a few ice cubes and shake again for 10 - 15 seconds to chill the mix. Strain into a chilled Collins glass filled with ice, and top with sparkling water. If you're fancy you can even replace the sparkle water for Prosecco. Garnish with a lemon twist, and get your day started!


Understanding the Pacific Northwest's Unique and Approachable Gin


Don’t call it fancy vodka - gin is much more complicated than that. Yea it’s neutral spirit with additional juniper berry, but crafting good gin has been a global undertaking for centuries. Our modern account of gin dates back to the first reference in the 13th century where juniper elixirs were used as medicine . Italians once claimed it, the English first exploited it and Scotland has most recently revolutionized it but the origins of gin actually lie in Holland, reaching back well past written records according to lore. Gin production is nothing new but there’s an undeniable resurgence in gin’s popularity that is partially due to it’s nonrestrictive production rules in addition to a fueled frenzy to localize spirit ingredients as much as possible. Gin is no longer characterized by country, gin is being modernized regionally by distillers who think out-of-the box and forage inside their local agricultural zone.

Our Lead Distiller Travis Schoney at Big Bottom Distilling is bringing to life unique styles of the classic spirit with a stamp of Pacific Northwest character that showcases the wide range of floral and botanical bounty that the upper left coast offers.

Ninety One Gin

Coming out of the gate with floral notes and a slightly sweeter-botanical style, the Ninety One Gin is Big Bottom Distilling’s homage to spring in the Pacific Northwest. Botanical heavy, the aromatics of wildflowers, wild mint and spicy herbs mingle together as a luscious bouquet. By going against the grain and producing a softer, more approachable gin, the Ninety One exemplifies the Pacific Northwest style of gin that honors juniper but is not saturated by it. It’s a flavor salad neither overtly citric like a London Dry or sweet like a classic Plymouth - it’s both and more.

“The Pacific Northwest is one of the most flora diverse places on Earth. We have high deserts, damp forests, the Pacific Ocean coastline, fertile valleys and volcanic mountains. When creating The Ninety One Gin, this was the driving force behind our creativity and expression. We wanted to create a product that is as unique as the place it was created.”

~ Travis Schoney, Head Distiller at Big Bottom Distilling

Navy Strength

If you’re looking for power, boldness, and a beautiful balance of botanical and potency, then the Navy Strength is the bottle you’ve been searching for. 114 proof without apology it’s a newbie nightmare but a gin-lovers dream. The bouquet balances floral properties of the expertly-distilled spirit and rich layers upon layers of earth tones and ethanol. Notes include spiced orange peel with hints of lemongrass that gently dominate the mid-palate. However, the combination of dried rinds and fresh herbs mingle beautifully with the full octane earthiness of the alcohol as a segue way to the clean, crisp finish. Head Distiller Travis Schoney took the time to perfect a gin that boasts intensity, subtlety, intricacy and approach-ability in this NW powerhouse.

Barrel-Finished Gin

The amazing flavors and elements of barrel-finished gins are eagerly being explored by distillers, and the Big Bottom Barrel-finished gin is leading the charge. The choice to culminate the distilled spirit in wood barrels allows an entirely new set of flavors to develop and elevates, or alleviates, the role in which juniper plays as a fundamental influence on character.

“Big Bottom Barrel Finished Gin undergoes a solera process with the use of four different woods that previously housed our whiskey: Local and rare Oregon oak, fruity Hungarian oak, spicy North American white oak and French Limousin Oak which is the most expensive oak used for barrels in the world. Why? Because I can.”

~ Travis Schoney, Head Distiller at Big Bottom Distilling

It’s also making an impact on cocktail culture, expanding the use of gin into uncharted spirit waters that have been owned by whiskey and brown liquors.

“Barrel-aged gin works better in classics like the Martinez, but works amazingly in cocktails not typically associated with gin, like the Old Fashioned. It really opens up some new options.”

~ Damon Boelte, proprietor of Brooklyn’s Grand Army

The Takeaway

Gin is not a liquid Christmas tree and is not all made in Europe. Spirit-lovers across the world can look to distillers to continue to innovate and evolve their processes with new approaches and ingredients.

To put it simply, out of necessity innovation is born. Gin (and other non-aged spirits) have seen a rise in recent years mostly due to this, in my shared opinion. Subsequently, Distillers are pushing beyond the status quo and creating some very unique spirits, spawning a new standard that celebrates gin in all of its many forms.

~ Travis Schoney, Head Distiller at Big Bottom Distilling

Distiller Travis Schoney samples gin distillate coming off the newly installed, custom 500 gallon still. Pictured are assistant distillers Kyle Ligoudice and Joshua Kaul.

Distiller Travis Schoney samples gin distillate coming off the newly installed, custom 500 gallon still. Pictured are assistant distillers Kyle Ligoudice and Joshua Kaul.

Canned Cocktails Are More Than a Craze

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The beauty behind the ready-to-drink (RTD) Portland Mule is not just the four-times distilled award-winning vodka, but its portability! Best yet, Eastside Distilling’s Portland Mule is as delicious as it is portable. This canned cocktail has been designed to be enjoyed on-the-go as well as in the moment. Our interpretation of a Moscow Mule embodies our rustic Oregon roots and fuses the Pacific Northwest into the mixed drink. It’s not from Russia so why pretend it is?

Fads and trends are innovation incubators. The poor ones come and go and the best ones re-shape our thinking as to what is possible. We’ve taken the momentum of the canned cocktail craze to analyze what exactly is happening here and why. Looking at the category from 30,000 feet gives us a clear view of what is working and what is failing. Canning a cocktail is only one piece of the single-serve revolution; dissecting the details around scope of demand, ecological impact, functionality and yes, profitability is a task that we’re fully committed to understanding.

Let’s talk demand. The demand for quality is not going anywhere - it’s here to stay and therefore is a rule, not a trend. As demand for quality spreads through varying aspects of our lives it is pertinent that we, as distillers and beverage producers, understand our role in this evolving dynamic. Not everyone has a personal bar cart and not everyone can mix a cocktail (ironically our distiller included which she is happy to discuss at length). As a society we are more on the go than ever and opportunities to be leisure are not always planned weeks, days or even hours in advance. Sharing a cocktail is the most leisure activity we indulge in as social creatures so we’re working to alleviate the additional stresses involved in having a good time.

It’s not always economical or ecologically responsible to bring glass bottles to sacred outdoor spaces such as river beds, beach fronts, trails, pools or parks. You know and respect the concept of “pack it in, pack it out” as we do. It’s our responsibility as a guest of nature that we leave these places as we found them - or better! The small format, slim-style can that we sourced fits perfectly in picnic baskets and backpacks, lightning the load and allowing space for essentials such as food, water and gear. Limiting the amount of material brought in to a space is more manageable when we design products to fit these needs and drastically limit potential remnants. It’s functional and good for the planet!

“Crafted in collaboration with Portland Syrups, the Portland Mule combines Eastside’s award-winning Portland Potato Vodka, spicy ginger syrup made from whole ingredients and a dash of fresh lime. We designed the Portland Mule to have a bold, balanced flavor with a refreshing fizzy finish. This Portland rendition is best enjoyed straight from the chilled can or poured over ice.”

~ Mel Heim, Master Distiller/Blender at Eastside Distilling

Now that you have less stress about what to carry around and if potentially tainting our natural habitat, you can finally live in the moments that matter most: times when friends can gather, enjoy an experience, and create a memory seamlessly without excess or waste. These moments and want for these moments was our inspiration for use of alternative packaging. If less is more then you can bask in your new ritual of opting for portable mixology where mahogany stools are replaced with stumps and straws are replaced with pop tops.

The Portland Mule canned cocktail fits perfectly into your life as a 250ml thin can. It’s 10.5% alcohol-by-volume which is the actual serving you would receive at a bar, and artfully crafted with local, whole ingredients from small businesses you’d be proud to support. Available year round you can sip in the summer or sulk in the rain, you won’t feel guilty wherever and whenever you crack a can.

Enjoying a cocktail in your happy place.  { Mocks Crest Park, Portland OR }

Enjoying a cocktail in your happy place. { Mocks Crest Park, Portland OR }

Marionberry Love: Why Oregonians Love Marionberries

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The Pacific Northwest is known for a lot of things: Picture-perfect waterfalls, endless hiking trails, salmon, rain (of course), and a berry the rest of the world has never heard of. The Marionberry. Hailing from quaint mid-valley Marion County, this juicy cultivar is the result of some creative gene-splicing from scientists at Oregon State University; home of the Maraschino Cherry! The Marionberry family tree is a who’s who in berries. Generations of cross-breeding Logan, Dew, Young, Rasp and Blackberries culminated in the finale of marrying genes of Olallie and Chehalem blackberry crops. It’s a sordid history fueled by lust and madness all for the sake of perfected the purple produce.


The marionberry does not abide to tact. It’s a tart punch to the palate later succumbing to sweeter flesh and jammy notes. Once you get through the initial bombardment to your senses, the berry gives in to modest tannin, relatable nuances such as raspberry and blueberry with an zesty citrus essence. The Marionberry is as much of a melting pot of flavors as it is a culmination in a long line of berry lineage.

Birth of an Oregon Icon

“The marionberry was developed by U.S. Department of Agricultural researcher George F. Waldo at Oregon State University in Corvallis in the nineteen forties. It is a cross of the flavorful Olallie berry and the high-producing Chehalem berry, both of which are also caneberry hybrids. The Olallie berry is a cross between the youngberry and the loganberry, each of which is also a caneberry hybrid. The youngberry is a cross between the native pacific blackberry and dewberry, while the loganberry is a cross between the native blackberry and the raspberry.”

“On the other side of the marionberry family tree, the Chehalem berry is a cross between the noxious European Himalayan blackberry and the Santiam blackberry. The Santiam is a cross between a native pacific blackberry and the loganberry. Got all that? And yes, loganberry is marionberry’s grandpa on one side of the family and great-grandpa on the other.”

~ Bipartisan Cafe


The juicy, delicious berry has become a seasonal standard in our home state popping up in everything from pies and jams to BBQ marinades, scratch-it stickers and even beer. Lately, the marionberry has really began to shine in craft cocktails. Local distilleries, like Eastside Distilling, have pushed the whimsical berry into the spotlight with their infused Marionberry Vodka and Marionberry Whiskey.

Eastside Distilling’s Marionberry Vodka was a feat in exacting practices redefining expectations. To combine a tart, citric berry with neutral octane ethanol with the expectation that it will be a summer delight both smooth and sweet and swell is easier spoken than done. Finding a balance here without creating a liqueur (masking ‘off’ and undesirable flavors with sugar) took time, research and patience. However, we are experienced, talented individuals who executed the development heroically. We seriously surprised ourselves in the process. The final infused vodka is delicious and complex without additionally added colors, flavors, extracts or preservatives. The spirit is unlike any flavored vodka on the market with a wide range of possibilities.

"Portland Marionberry Vodka is a genuine venture into flavoring spirits.  The jammy, berry notes are lively and rich, unencumbered by added sugar and complemented by the water-like profile of our potato vodka.  Compared to other berry vodkas on the market I think we achieved the unbelievable and crafted a complex vodka out of a simple concept.”

~ Mel Heim, Master Distiller/Blender at Eastside Distilling

Not to be outdone by the vodka, Eastside Distilling has fused the humble marionberry with their award-winning whiskey to create a brand new dimension of the flavored whiskey world: Oregon Marionberry Whiskey. Prominent notes include wood spice, gooey pie filling, a sweep of baked dough and unctuous dessert wine.

"Oregon Marionberry Whiskey is rich in color like homemade strawberry jam. It has a bright, potent aroma of sweet mango, raspberry and blackberry that sweetens as the vapors disperse. Intense fresh marionberries hit the palate and quickly transform to spice and citrus; ultimately evolving into warm brandy and cherry essence. The finish lingers awhile with subtle young whiskey heat and baked tart dryness."

~ Mel Heim, Master Distiller/Blender at Eastside Distilling

Cocktail Recipe

NW Berry Sour

1.5 oz Marionberry Whiskey
1.5 oz Apple Juice/Cider
.5 oz Cranberry Juice
.5 oz Lemon Juice


Fill glass with ice and combine all the ingredients and garnish with lemon wheel.

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Defining Rye as a Category

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The rise of craft bourbon over the last few decades has brought with it a whole slew of new terms and definitions into the average spirit drinker’s world. Chiefly among them, the wondrous and glorious category of Rye Whiskey.  So what sets rye apart from other whiskeys such as bourbon and single malts? What ingredients and characteristics make rye its own category? 


The fundamental difference that shepherds rye into its own realm of the whiskey world is the mashbill. The regulations demand that an American “rye” whiskey be made with, at the very least, 51% rye and the remaining grain bill being comprised of various ratios of malted barley and corn. After being distilled to 80% (160 proof) the newborn rye is set to rest in new, charred, American White oak barrels at no higher than 62.5% (125 proof). 

To qualify as a straight rye whiskey the spirit must stay in that barrel for a minimum of two years. And to take the process one step further, producers can choose a mash-bill that is 100% rye grain to create the mythical Monongahela rye whiskey.  This is a rare spirit, indeed, as rye is one of the more temperamental grains, often being cursed at by distillers for its habit of frothing uncontrollably during fermentation.  

Our friends over the border up north have far fewer requirements for defining the label of a “rye” whiskey, but do require that the base blending spirit be aged for at least three years in barrels no larger than 180 gallons. 

Rye whiskey distilleries create their flavor profile based on the strategic blend of corn and malted barley they choose to complement the dominant rye overtones. 


Unlike sweeter, “juicer,” corn-based bourbon, rye brings a spicy, dryer style of whiskey to the table. The rye grass grain is a welcomed substitution in classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Whiskey Sour. The recent wave of interest in simple whiskey cocktails and home bartending has launched rye into the forefront as the spirit of choice. 

Below are two examples of wildly different rye bottles worth noting for their differences and commonalities. Stylistically they are opposites, couldn’t be more different, but qualitatively they are both winners of prestigious double-gold medals from the most competitive spirit tasting in the country. It shows how vast the differences can be even when both are playing with the same set of rules.

Eastside’s Burnside Oregon Oaked Rye

Proudly producing Oregon’s finest whiskeys, Eastside Distilling’s Burnside Oregon Oaked Rye is brimming with notes that might be unfamiliar to the average rye imbiber and that was always a part of Master Blender Mel Heim’s vision and strategy.  Heim says it is very rare for producers to highlight rye’s subtle, delicate notes such as mint and stone fruit.  “We know it’s spicy with cereal notes but when manipulated correctly you can extrapolate fruitiness and honeyed undertones.”  That’s why her blends incorporate purchased whiskey lots from the usual suspects such as MGPI and George Dickel but also some gems from craft distilleries such as her favorite 4 year pot-distilled unmalted rye produced ‘where the mountains meet the sky’. (It’s proprietary, she exclaims).  Once the masterful blend is complete it will spend time aging in toasted Quercus Garryana casks, glorious Oregon Oak, then be bottled at 92 proof. 

“We are not mimicking ryes of the past, we are relying on them as the foundation in which we build rye’s future.” 

- Mel Heim, Master Distiller/Blender at Eastside Distilling 

Eastside Distilling uses the indigenous Quercus Garryana Oregon white oak to put a truly unique and layered Pacific Northwest flair on rye whiskey. The oak imparts a pronounced nuance of vanilla because of the high density of the tannin vanillin present in the ultra-porous NW oak. Southern American oaks produce much less of this dessert tannin.  

Burnside Oregon Oaked Rye Whiskey embodies the adventurous spirit of the Northwest craft whiskey movement.  The grain ratios are unorthodox, the cool climate in which it ages stunts rapid evaporation and condenses flavor over time.  You can taste that the barrel was not exposed to excessive heat. There is no trace of burning sensations in the liquid. It’s calm, cool and pleasant like the terroir that surrounds it.  This expression has earned top honors at some of the most competitive and prestigious competitions, namely, double gold medals and Best of Category at the San Francisco International Spirits Competition and the New York World Spirits Competition where some of the most beloved big brands came in at second best.  

Big Bottom Delta Rye

Coming out of the gate at a whopping 111 proof, Big Bottom’s Delta Rye masterfully destroys the notion that bigger is harsher.  Completely abandoning the avenue travelled to create Burnside Oregon Oaked Rye, Delta Rye forged its own path as a blend of straight Indiana rye with softer three-year old Canadian rye that uses extra heat to its advantage.  Baked spice, smoke and cereal grains explode with added bursts of cinnamon, orange, banana and blackberry.  When you drink it you think, what the hell just happened in my mouth? I think I like it.   

The higher proof bolsters an uncomfortably comfortable singe on the palate.  You need another sip to tame the first. It’s a beast of a whiskey that tramps over delicate characters in a very satisfying way and is a prime example of how a rye can be engineered  with no particular style to create a very specific new style which is what the craft whiskey community is all about.   

The Takeaway

The roots of rye run deep, calling back to the late 1700s in the U.S.  American Whiskey’s popularity by style ebbs and flows, rising and falling with each new generation.  Present day craft spirits are known for bending and breaking rules with no hints of slowing down. These two rye whiskeys prove that the category has no confinements.   These ryes are completely different from each other and won over the hearts and minds of the most critical palates on Earth. It’s a profound revelation as to what can still be achieved if we search beyond the status quo.  



Discovering Pacific Northwest Whiskey


Sandwiched between our Canadian neighbors to the north and the towering California redwood trees to the south, the picturesque Pacific Northwest is making waves in the craft beverage world for all the right reasons. Wine and beer established Cascadia on the fermented map and whiskey has followed into the spotlight in a big way. 

The traditions and flavors of American whiskey have greatly evolved since the early Colonial settlers set up cottage stills in the late 1700’s.  American Whiskey really only matured into what we know to be the classic complex flavors we enjoy today in the last 60 years. Western whiskey emerged more recent than that while Oregon’s first distilled whiskey was bottled in the 1990’s!   

Bourbon made its way across the Mississippi to places like Colorado and Utah -  later venturing further through the Rocky Mountains to the temperate climate and douglas fir forests of the Western slopes. Bourbon here has become like the people:  mellow and mild tempered; trading in the wild spice and smoke of Appalachia country for decadent coffee and damp deciduous wood.

So what happens when these classic whiskeys are born in the South then reared in the West?  They adopt the terroir in which they’re nurtured. Rye whiskey calms its heat into subtly toasted spices.  Hints of candied orange peel and stone fruit expose themselves while the oak takes a back seat. Bourbon develops extra layers of dessert tannins like brown sugar and caramel on top of the woody earth notes we’ve become accustomed to. The Pacific Northwest breeds very unique whiskeys unlike any other and these Cascadian hallmarks reared the genesis of a new whiskey era.    

The beautiful thing about  producing brown spirits in the Pacific Northwest is that creativity is abound and distilleries and their distillers have the freedom to experiment without ruffling the feathers on an old guard. Take us, Eastside Distilling, who have been on the forefront of the West Coast Whiskey frontier for 8 years and who first produced a Bourbon in the state of Oregon in 2012.  Distiller/Blenders like Mel Heim are exploring and exploiting the full potential of whiskey making in Portland, OR. Gleaning inspiration from bourbons, whiskeys and ryes produced around the country her blends are renowned for bridging tradition and innovation in a sophisticated way all the while incorporating flavors unique to the Pacific Northwest.


“We are not forgetting the bourbon of the past, we are boldly celebrating bourbon of the present and future.”

-Mel Heim, Master Distiller/Blender

The wide range of the whiskey portfolio showcases a homegrown approach in a way that is innovative yet incredibly inviting to the novice and the connoisseur. The use of Quercus Garryana, or native Oregon oak, lovingly stamps each of the 5 Burnside Whiskey expressions with the state’s unique fingerprint. 

For instance, the Burnside Buckman RSV Bourbon bundles all of the elements of Heim’s talent and vision into one big ole’ bottle of woody goodness. 

“The Burnside Buckman RSV Bourbon is a celebration of our company’s 10-year anniversary and the newest member of our highly acclaimed Burnside Whiskey family. We’ve mellowed 10, 12 and 14 years aged bourbons in charred Quercus Garryana casks to manipulate the established provenance. My hand-picked barrels were charred to extrapolate toffee, maple and vanilla to mingle with the charcoal and clove.  It defies a blender’s intuition to double age in extra charred barrels but the Garryana is full of surprises.”

This single expression elevates Pacific Northwest whiskeys’ reputation as a formidable powerhouse in it’s elegant yet bold style. As the character of the region’s whiskey distilling and blending matures, spirits like the Burnside Buckman RSV Bourbon will continue to build momentum.  Heim says she’s thankful for the 220 days of rain in the Willamette Valley because without it, we would have had to harvest Hemlocks. 

It’s not all about bourbon though for Heim and Eastside.  Burnside Oregon Oaked Rye was launched in time to ryed (ok, ride, bad pun) the rye wave.  Rye Whiskey is blossoming into a tour-de-force spirit and unexpected foundation for classic whiskey-based cocktails and the Burnside Rye is a no-brainer with its Best in Class status.  

“Like wine, whiskey gets its personality from the ground up.  Different grounds, different character.”

-Mel Heim, Master Distiller/Blender 

Burnside Buckman Reserve Anniversary Blend: 8, 10 and 14 year straight bourbons blended and rested in charred Quercus Garryana Casks for 10 months.

Burnside Buckman Reserve Anniversary Blend: 8, 10 and 14 year straight bourbons blended and rested in charred Quercus Garryana Casks for 10 months.

It is a new and exciting time to broaden your horizons. Come explore with us.