CHARLESTON — Stillwagon Distillery hosted a work party Saturday inviting community members to its Charleston tasting room to help zest hundreds of lemons for one of its limited, handcrafted rum drinks.
Owner Rick Stillwagon said this is the second year the distillery has created its lemon rum, which uses fresh Meyer lemons from Dairyville Acres in Red Bluff, Calif., owned and operated by former World publisher Greg Stevens and his wife, Marcy.
This year, approximately 620 pounds of lemons were delivered to the distillery where about six volunteers helped zest each lemon by hand. The lemons were also pressed for their juice and the peels separated for compost.
“It was such a hit the first time we did it, so we decided to do it again,” Stillwagon said. “I wasn’t sure what to do with the lemons when we first got them so I just started experimenting.”
Last fall, Stillwagon said after he received his first shipment of lemons he immediately began trying different ways to infuse the flavors into his rum. A combination of both zest and lemon juice he said yielded the best result.
“I decided to do something less on the sweet side and more indicative of the fruit itself,” Stillwagon said.
The batch will be aged for about four months before being bottled and distributed to its three tasting rooms in Charleston, Bandon and Florence. It will also be sold to a limited number of retailers around Oregon.
The seasonal rum joins the distillery’s 18 other variations and will be available in the spring. Stillwagon began the distillery in 2013 after experimenting with aquaponics and heating systems. The family-owned business incorporates a number of sustainable, eco-friendly practices throughout its entire production process.
“The work we do is very labor intensive, so it’s nice to have people out here helping,” Stillwagon said.