by Laurel Harrison
Last week, the SacFoodies attended a tour and tasting at J.J. Pfister Distilling, a recently-opened craft distillery in Rancho Cordova. The craft beer boom took Sacramento by storm, and we were excited to see a new side of the craft beverage coin – a family-owned and operated local distillery. Since launching their initial potato vodka in 2017, J.J. Pfister Distilling now makes and sells vodka and gin, with an additional gin variety, rum, bourbon and rye whiskey all on the way.
The visit opened our eyes to a whole new world of craft beverages, and it made us happy to know that we can enjoy a cocktail and support local business and innovation. A tasting at J.J. Pfister is also a great alternative for the non-beer lovers out there, or those of us who just want to try something new. Don’t we all have that one friend who doesn’t like beer, no matter how many fruity sours you throw their way? J.J. Pfister’s tasting room brings the casual, friendly vibe of a brewery while offering up spirit options that are downright delicious.
Gail and Kevin Keck, distillery owners and parents to the master distiller Brian Keck, greeted us warmly with a beautiful charcuterie board and signature cocktails made by Dru, the resident mixologist.
We enjoyed our first cocktail, which consisted of J.J. Pfister gin and vodka, fresh blackberries, lemon, pomegranate syrup and soda water, with local cheese and cold cuts. The gin and vodka combo really shined in this tart and bubbly drink, which was the perfect pairing for buttery and salty charcuterie.
With that, we were ready for our tour! Kevin Keck took us on a full tour of the distillery (you can do this for free if you go for a tasting!), showing us everything from the potato grinder to the copper, made-in-Italy, Willy Wonka-esque still. J.J. Pfister prides themselves on creating an organic product that uses high-quality, sustainable ingredients, and this level of care and detail extends throughout the space.
In keeping with their sustainable mission, the distillery sends their spent grain to an organic dairy in Elk Grove, uses barrels from a local producer and donates 1% of profits to the Klamath Basin Refuge, from which they source their organic potatoes.
It was incredible to see all the different components that go into making each craft spirit. From the quality of the ingredients to the type of wood of each barrel, the distillery pays attention to every small detail that affects the flavor and quality of the drink.
The distillery’s namesake, J.J. Pfister himself, is fascinating in his own right and the distillery has a fantastic exhibit on his work and family memorabilia. An innovator and knitting industry entrepreneur (you read that right), his legacy can be seen throughout the distillery, from the tasting room decor to the brand logo. Most of all, his company motto has worked its way into the distillery’s promise – to provide high quality product to customers at a fair price.
To truly absorb the full distillery experience, we highly recommend visiting for yourself! We had a wonderful time and Kevin and Gail were incredibly accommodating hosts. The bar was busy when we left for the evening and more tours were getting underway – this spot already seems to be a local favorite!
Thank you again to the whole J.J. Pfister team who took the time to show us their craft – we can’t wait to come back soon!
To learn more about J.J. Pfister Distilling, visit their website or stop by their tasting room at 9819 Business Park Drive, Sacramento CA.
You can also find J.J. Pfister vodka and gin locally at Nugget Markets Stores and Total Wine & More.
by Laurel Harrison