In a very unassuming storefront on Railroad Avenue in the heart of York Beach lies what just might be the next great place to Fill The Steins in Maine. On Sunday I visited Wiggly Bridge Distillery, the newest of only seven (by my count) spirit producers in Maine and the only one located in the summer tourist mecca of southern York County.
My visit to the distillery was not planned; I had driven by it several times in the spring as they were setting up shop and always planned to stop in for a tasting. After spending the better part of the morning at York’s Wild Kingdom with our friends and four kids under the age of six we broke for lunch and much needed drinks at Guac-n-Roll which is worth a visit on its own. On our way back to the park, at the suggestion of my buddy Evan we stopped into Wiggly Bridge to check-out the distillery and were immediately impressed.
We were promptly met by David Woods, the owner, a local guy known well around York for his involvement with the town’s government. The space might just be the nicest storefront in all of York Beach with rough cut oak boards gracing the walls and floors of the roughly 800 square foot space. Immediately upon entering I was drawn over to the massive 60-gallon still which was made by hand and had me thinking of what it must have been like to make spirits back in the 1800′s. The remainder of the space was reserved for displays bottled spirits, shirts, and other items with the Wiggly Bridge logo which I liked as the actual Wiggley Bridge is such an icon for the York community.
We bellied up to the tasting bar and were greeted with a smile and a sample of each of their initial product offerings. Now I must mention, if you are new to Fill The Steins, I tend to drink for volume instead of deep, rich flavor, but that doesn’t mean I can’t tell something special when I taste it. We first tried the whiskey, which had a very smooth taste with the smell and flavor working past my tongue and up into my nostrils with only the slightest of burns. Next we tried the bourbon and just the taste led me to believe that Dave had been distilling for decades, not a years. Lastly we got an exclusive tasting of their new rum which won’t be available until early July and I almost told the wife to take the kids to the amusement park and to come back and get me in a couple of hours. Three different spirits, three very different levels of complexity, but they all shared one thing in common; unique flavor. While I knew what I was drinking with the whiskey, bourbon, and rum I could tell that a lot of thought and experimenting went into these recipes to make them unique products not just to Maine but perhaps New England and beyond.
Dave was so welcoming and I got the impression that if we wanted to pull up a chair and spend the afternoon he would’ve been fine with that. He let us in on a little secret that there are plans in the works for a larger, year-round facility opening in a “well known” building on Route 1 in York later this year. If the initial batches of whiskey, bourbon, and rum are any indication, Wiggly Bridge is here to stay and a must for anyone looking to Fill The Steins in Southern Maine.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Pub and Shop Signs