While produce is the norm for the farm-to-table concept, the Bently Heritage Estate Distillery is using a similar philosophy with its liquor.
“Estate” is a key word in the name of this Minden, Nevada, business. It means all the grain – wheat, corn, oats, winter rye and barley – is grown on the surrounding land owned by the Bently family. The family has 50,000 acres in the Carson Valley, with 16,000 devoted to this project.
Water, another key component to spirits, comes from a well on the property. That is fed from snowmelt.
Chris and Camille Bently are proprietors of the distillery. While they had been working on the facility for five years, the tasting room has only been open since February 2019. Gin, vodka and sherry are available now, with whiskey being about another nine years out. The first batch was laid down last fall with the plan for it being 10-years-old before the public tastes it.
The Bentlys don’t want to make ordinary spirits. They spent time in Scotland researching methods, with the desire to bring old world philosophies to the new world. This includes ingredients, machinery and how the spirits are distilled.
“Craft gin is all the rage,” guide Wes Paterson said. He said it is the fastest growing spirit in the United States. The Bentlys are tapping into this craze with three types of gin for sale.
Brick buildings that were once used by the Dangberg ranching family are now part of the Bently estate. They are filled with copper and silver contraptions. The old creamery building that was part of the Minden Butter Manufacturing Company has been renovated and is the main distillery. The whiskey is made in a separate building on the property.
“All the spirits are designed to stand on their own, but they are also great in cocktails,” Paterson said of the Bently products.
The distillery offers tours four days a week. While I’m more of a wine and beer gal, Bently’s spirits has my taste buds evolving. At the end of the tour is the opportunity to sample some of the products they have for sale. On this particular day we indulged in Source One Single Estate Vodka; Source One Single Estate Vodka, Rested in Sherry Oak Casks; and American Dry Gin.
So much information is given on the tour that it would be easy to go more than once. I learned that gin is technically naturally flavored vodka and that by law it needs a minimum of 30 percent juniper berries.
The vodka that was stored in the sherry oak casks is caramel color and tastes more like sherry than vodka. Stopping in the public house after the tour I ordered a Maple Old Fashioned. While an Old Fashioned usually has whiskey, this one was with the Source One Single Estate Vodka, Rested in Sherry Oak Casks. Wow – hard to tell it wasn’t whiskey.
Not surprisingly, all the cocktails are made with Bently boozes. No food is served – at least not yet.
The production line runs Monday-Friday, with the potential of creating 400,000 cases a year.
- Address: 1601 Water St., Minden, Nevada.
- One-hour tours: Thursday-Sunday, 10am-5pm; $20.
- Tasting room: Thursday and Sunday, 10am-9pm; Friday and Saturday, 10am-10pm.
- Bently spirits are available in Nevada, California and Arizona, with the goal of international distribution.