Mercury News: Master distiller Lance Winters turns landscapes into spirits


On a hazy winter afternoon, St. George Spirits distiller Lance Winters sits in his lab on Alameda Island, unlit stogie in hand, surveying his tools and tinctures.

"This one here is turkey rhubarb," he says, extending a small, uncorked bottle of bitters. "And this one over here is ambergris, a whale secretion. It's used as a base in many perfumes."

Winters, a former naval engineer once stationed at the base that now houses the St. George facilities, creates the complex flavors you may have tasted in Hangar One vodkas, or St. George absinthe, whiskey, eau de vie and other spirits. He distills flavors drawn from the world around him, from the earthy scents of Joaquin Miller Park to the fragrances in his own backyard.