Early Oregon fur traders concocted a type of distilled beverage known as “Blue Ruin,” used in commerce with local Native Americans. Drawn by the abundant summer harvests of the Willamette Valley, distillers put down roots in the nineteenth century. Because of Oregon's early sunset on legal liquor production in 1916—four years before national Prohibition—hundreds of illicit stills popped up across the state. Residents of Portland remained well supplied, thanks to the infamous efforts of Mayor George Baker. The failed national experiment ended in 1933, and Hood River Distillers resurrected the sensible enterprise of turning surplus fruit into brandy in 1934. Thanks in part to the renowned Clear Creek Distillery triggering a craft distilling movement in 1985, the state now boasts seventy distilleries and counting. Author Scott Stursa leads a journey through the history of distilling in the Beaver State.
Program Type: Author