If  holiday gifting is already on your mind, here’s a fun one for that special person in your tribe who enjoys spirits. What started as a “science project” in 2003 by Tom Burkleaux and Matthew VanWinkle, the wildly successful New Deal Distillery now attracts a mainstream following of tasters on Portland’s Distillery Row. Master distiller Burkleaux offers the next generation of spirit makers a day of hands-on training with his very popular whiskey making classes.

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With more than 10 years of studying and practicing the science himself, Burkleaux has the proven chops to lead the classes. He and co-owner VanWinkle have produced a select line of gins, whiskeys, vodkas and liqueurs. For those with a sustainability bent, the distillery also has a long history of local sourcing for a variety of their products, in true community collaboration with such well-knowns as Bob’s Red Mill (for sugars and grains), Water Avenue Coffee Company (for beans), and Global Stainless (for their custom-made still). To expand their product line in the early years they also partnered with LOFT Organic Liqueurs from the San Francisco Bay Area to craft organic liqueurs that used fresh, flavorful, local organic fruits and herbs.

There are many who are incubating their passion for whiskey-making, so register soon as these popular classes fill up quickly.

Their outstanding dedication to the craft and to the local food community makes them an ideal place to raise a glass at classes’ end.

If Portland is also on your travel agenda, head to their newish, two-year old tasting room and retail store at 900 SE Salmon Street to tour the distillery and sample before you buy.

Catch their updates on Facebook and @NewDealPDX.

Images: New Deal Distillery