Last Updated on November 3, 2022 by The Noms
Join us on this tour of Humboldt Distillery in Fortuna, California. This original micro distillery in Humboldt County, California produces vodka, rum and whiskey. See our tasting notes of their products as well as their facilities, and make plans to visit yourself!
On our recent spring break trip we made our way to Northern California. We wanted to check off another National Park on our youngest sons’ bucket list (he has the goal of getting to all of them!), and of course we started looking for patented “Spirited Travel” locations! In having worked with Humboldt Distillery before, we knew we had to have a tour if they were available.
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Humboldt Distillery was founded by fifth generation North Coast native, Abe Stevens and his wife Courtney. They started the distillery because of his love for Humboldt County and his love of chemistry. Humboldt Distillery is the first micro distillery on the north coast and the only to produce certified organic spirits in Humboldt county. Their quality and award winning spirits include Organic Vodka, Organic Spiced Rum, Humboldt’s Finest, and Organic Malt Whiskey.
Award Winning Spirits
Humboldt Distillery Organic Vodka got a double gold at the 2019 Bartender Spirits Awards as well as the Spirit of the Year award. They also won Vodka of the Year, Best Value of the Year and Distillery of the Year awards.
As Abe said, “We’ve only ever set out to simply make high-quality products that people can enjoy without a lot of pretentiousness, but if a group of experts like the BSA says our stuff is that good then I guess we won’t argue with them.”
Humboldt’s Finest, their hemp infused vodka won a Double Gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Located in Humboldt County, California, the distillery is inspired by being close to the Redwood forests and the sea. This comes across in their use of water from redwood forest watersheds, and their whimsical bottle label designs with crabs, pelicans and Sasquatch!
Humboldt County is home to the world’s tallest trees, gorgeous coastlines and wildlife. Inspired by this Abe and Courtney started Humboldt Distillery in 2013. Courtney is from Des Moines, Iowa, but they wanted to settle in Northern California after their first child was born.
Located on 10th street in Fortuna, California, Humboldt Distillery is located between some of the largest tree parks in the area: Avenue of the Giants and Redwood National and State Parks. Plus, rushing rivers and near the coast, Fortuna is a small but bustling town that is the perfect location for the #1 bestselling organic vodka in the state of California. They produce certified organic products in an effort to preserve the environment.
From the beginning, the idea was to incorporate Humboldt into the brand of the business. Starting production was a few hundred bottles a month. By December 2021, production was a little more than 10,000 bottles.
Their sales last year saw a 50% increase over 2020 and Abe said the goal this year is to double that. In terms of cases, that would be about 12,000 cases this year.
Humboldt Distillery utilizes a column still and three pot stills, in their distillery’s approximately 7,000 square foot space. They have a manual bottle filling line and a great staff of people.
Humboldt Distillery Organic Vodka
Humboldt Distillery’s Organic Vodka made with sugarcane. The flavor is dry with a clean finish and has a neutral character. It’s a USDA Certified Organic Vodka with no glycerine, sweeteners, citric acid or other additives. It is also Non-GMO and Gluten free.
Vodka has long been famous for its neutral taste as a clean base to build on. But Humboldt Distillery wasn’t going to stand for that. Their Organic Vodka is distilled from sugarcane, using water from an ancient watershed in redwood forests. This vodka has hints of sweetness throughout each sip.
The organic Vodka is easy to recognize by the crab on the label. Being a coastal community, and with Abe liking to fish and crab, the label is eye catching and fun!
Original Rum – Certified Organic Gold Rum
Humboldt Distillery has gold rum distilled from organic sugarcane the same as their vodka. They age the rum in American white oak bourbon barrels for varying intervals before blending the rums to create the Original Rum. Sweetness of caramel and toffee are on the palate with woodiness of American oak on the finish.
Humboldt Distillery Spiced Rum
The Humboldt Spiced Rum continues the tradition of spiced rum. The Spiced Rum is distilled from organic sugarcane and infused with organic spices. Moderately spiced, this craft rum has hints of vanilla, allspice and fruit. It’s a lovely liquor perfect for mixing.
Organic Malt Whiskey
This Malt Whiskey is distilled from organic malted barley and aged in American white oak barrels. The Whiskey has tasting notes of caramel, oak and toasted vanilla. A unique malt, getting your hands on it may be as elusive as the Sasquatch on its label.
Humboldt’s Finest Hemp Infused Vodka
Humboldt’s Finest came from the same refrain Abe kept hearing while on sales calls. “From Humboldt, huh? You have any of that hometown special ingredient? (wink, wink).” Humboldt County is a huge cannabis growing region.
So, he went with the idea of adding those flavors to vodka. It took a year to finalize the recipe as something that wasn’t skunklike in flavor. That doesn’t make for good cocktails. They did find the flavor in the hemp seed, and “natural flavors” quoted on the bottle, like the simple rubbing of a leaf and highlighted that in the vodka.
We have likened it to hops in a way, it reminds me of the nose and flavor of hops to be sure. But no bitterness, as I am not one for overly hoppy beer, but love Humboldt’s Finest. Try substituting Humboldt’s Finest for your favorite gin or vodka in any cocktail.
And, consumers drinking Humboldt’s Finest won’t cop a buzz. They were required to submit samples to government labs to verify that there wasn’t any detectable THC levels, or CBD. So you may just get a buzz from the vodka itself.
Who Owns Humboldt Distillery?
Abe Stevens and his wife Courtney. Courtney wears plenty hats as co-founder, lead marketing chief and human resources admin.
Abe and Courtney also have a a focus on the oceanic movement, which echoes their familial crab-trapping and beach-combing. It also helped to inspire the crab on their vodka. They are into clean water, because their products are 60% water.
So make sure to schedule a tasting at Humboldt Distillery in the small and dedicated corner of the space. There is also a vinyl collection and vintage player if you are wanting to take your time.
Future for Humboldt Distillery
As for upcoming projects and products, in the back of the distillery sits a dusty 1957 Chevrolet. It was Abe’s grandparents’ car. And was being worked on while we were on our tour.
It is being fixed up to become the car that Abe drives to events and such, so it will advertise the distillery. It will also be converted to be run with byproducts from their production process, making it even more eco friendly.
They are also producing an organic apple brandy. We didn’t get to taste it, but will have to make a special trip back, or somehow get our hands on some!
The state of California accounts for 90 percent of the distillery’s sales, with Northern California making around 75 percent of that total. Their organic vodka ranks number six in terms of total vodka sales in California. The spirits can also be found in about a dozen additional states.
If you can get your hands on some, do so! And, if you are making your way to northern California add Humboldt Distillery to your list of must visit places!
735 10th St, Fortuna, CA
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Other Places to Visit
- Hotaling Distilling
- Healdsburg, California Hotels
- Holladay Distillery – Weston, Missouri
- The Matheson, Healdsburg, California
- Guide to Kansas City
- Hewing Hotel – Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Vineyards with Guest Houses in Sonoma
- Sonoma Wine Tasting
- KoHana Rum Distillery, Hawaii
- Storm Cellar Winery, Hotchkiss, Colorado
- Prohibition Distillery – Sonoma
- St George Distilling – Alameda, California
- Humboldt Bay Social Club
- Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch
- Dampfwerk Distillery – Minneapolis, Minnesota
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