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Historic Mare Island is getting a new, scenic whiskey distillery

Written by
Matt Charnock

Mare Island is a well-known haven for outdoor enthusiasts, but it’ll soon be a go-to destination for craft whiskey-lovers as well.

Savage & Cookea new craft distillery owned and operated by world-renowned winemaker Dave Phinney (creator of The Prisoner and Orin Swift wine labels), will open next month on the North Bay preserve, crafting whisky, bourbon and rye by the barrel.

The island, just off the shore of Vallejo, boasts a fascinating history as a former naval shipyard and includes hundreds of acres of pristine green spaces and camping destinations in close proximity to both Napa Valley and San Francisco (just hop on the ferry). The new distillery will take over a restored brownstone building that once served as bunker and a storage facility for highly classified military documents. 

Savage & Cooke launched operations in May of 2017 with Ayate tequila (featuring reposado and anejo versions) and expanded in September with the five-year-old Second Glance American Whiskey and the four-year-old Burning Chair Bourbon. Both the tequila and whiskies are finished in Phinney’s wine barrels before bottling, though the tequila is not made in the United States.  

“The tasting room will offer visitors a unique experience on Mare Island with tastings of our core products, tours led by our master distiller, and rare tastings of our reserves which are only available onsite—including a 12-year-old Bourbon and 10-year-old American Whiskey,” says Lauren Blanchard, general manager at Savage & Cook told Shanken News.

Indeed, the distillery is just the beginning for Phinney on Mare Island—the entrepreneur has purchased seven historic buildings with plans for a winery, a fried chicken restaurant, a public park, a rooftop bar, a boutique coffee roaster, artists’ studios and more. 

The official grand unveiling for the distillery is on May 5th at 1097 Nimitz Ave, Vallejo

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