It’s not unusual for me to stumble across a vineyard, a brewery or a distillery in the course of a trip. However, to find all three in one place, on an island as small as Nantucket, was quite a surprise. Nantucket Vineyard, Cisco Brewers and Triple Eight Distillery all have their roots in 1981, when Dean and Melissa Long realized that climatic conditions weren’t going to permit the cultivation of grapes, so they imported them from top growers in California and Washington and started to produce wines of increasing reputation.
The second arm of the business, Cisco Brewers, came on the scene in 1992 when Randy and Wendy Hudson, who were working at the winery, started to produce beer. Then in 2000, with whiskey being little more than distilled beer, Dean started Triple Eight. To keep the distillery funded while the whiskey aged in barrels, they also turned to making vodka. Today their efforts have created a kind of beverage theme park, with a barnlike structure for each element of the portfolio, where you can sample and purchase their wares.
Standouts for me were the Washashore red, a bracing blend of Cabernet, Syrah and Malbec; the excellent Whale’s Tale Pale Ale, brewed in the English style; the Gale Force Gin, a terrific spirit made with nine botanicals; and The Notch, a whiskey aged for 10 years. If you pay a visit, be sure to take advantage of the terrific food truck run by the Nantucket Lobster Trap, which sells fine clam chowder and lobster rolls.