Based on the raves, I went by St. George Spirits on the way home from work a few weeks ago. I met Joerg (as in St. Joerg) and tasted a lot of their wares.
We talked for quite a while, which was a good thing because I tried a lot of stuff...
Plain vodka - very smooth, comparable to Kettle one and other high end, highly distilled vodkas.
Mandarin Blossom vodka - AMAZING. starts with a very intense orange flavor with a flowery finish. I've been drinking it with a splash of tonic lately.
Kaffir Lime vodka - Very intense lime flavor, so fruity it seems sweet. I purchased this as well.
Buddha's Hand vodka - I must have tried this one towards the end because I can't remember it.
Pear eau de vie - AMAZING. starts very smooth, almost neutral, but with an very intense pear finish. I bought a bottle of this as well.
Single Malt Scotch - aged only 3 years, this is a very un-scotch like scotch, it reminds me more of a brandy. Joerg told me that they were trying to bring out the flavor of the grain, rather than trying to duplicate Scottish Scotch by adding peat. It does have a sweet sort of grainy flavor. I liked it, but am really more of an islay malt sorta guy.
I was interested that there is really no FRUIT in the vodka. The Kaffir lime is made from the leave, the Buddha's hand is made from the rind, and the Mandarin Blossom is made from the flowers. The flavored vodka's have a tint of color, but are perfectly clear. Apparently by not adding the actual meat of the fruit, and by distilling the vodka twice, it makes a much more stable product - meaning the flavor and color won't change over time.
I told Joerg about Chowhound and sent him a link to Rochelle's original Hangar One post. He emailed me back with an invitation to their open house on August 10 and 11. I'm passing the invitation on to all interested Chowhounds (boozehounds?)
To get there from the city (or from Oakland for that matter) take the Oakland/Alameda ferry to Alameda. Get off the ferry, walk into the parking lot, look to the right and you will see the Rosenblum winery next door, St. George Spirits is right around the corner.