BANDON — Stillwagon Distillery, home of the Devil's Own Rum, has a new tasting room in Old Town Bandon.
Visitors to the Bandon tasting room can sample and purchase varieties ranging from unflavored Wicked and Gold rums to spiced and flavored. Stillwagon is a family owned business, opened in Charleston in 2013 by Rick and Karen Stillwagon.
The Charleston distillery location is off the beaten path, Rick noted. More locals and visitors have already discovered the business since the Bandon tasting room opened in June.
"It's a good opportunity for more exposure and to meet lots of people, from all over the world," Stillwagon said. "Our space in Old Town (Bandon) fits our image, the nautical theme, the boats."
Stillwagon weaves plenty of rum-running nostalgia and pirate play into his product presentation. But he's serious about his craft. Sugar cane is the staple ingredient in rum. Stillwagon adds his own selection of molasses, fermentation yeast, spices and flavors. He samples every batch for quality, and decides when the proof is perfect.
"There's a lot of repetition in the market," Stillwagon said. "I want to make sure our products stand on their own and are unique."
The idea for a distillery started with a koi pond — Stillwagon purchased a pellet stove to heat the pond. A decade experimenting with aquaponics, heating and distillation, was followed by research into distilled beverages and a visit with family in Charleston. Stillwagon made connections with other micro distilling experts and sought business planning direction from the SWOCC Small Business Development Center.
He also worked closely with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Distilleries require federal and state licensure, and ongoing approval for labeling each product. Unlike other states in the region, the OLCC acts as the statewide liquor distributor, and that system helped get the business started, Stillwagon said.
And, his research is ongoing. New rum recipes are in development.
Right now, the newest product in the tasting room is vodka. It's made from sugar cane, carefully cut to remove the stalk heads and tails. The result is a spirit with the unique profile and pleasant finish that's Stillwagon's standard.