08 Sep Please The Palate Pick of the Week: The Distillery Tour at Lost Spirits in Downtown Los Angeles
My friend’s birthday party this week was at Lost Spirits Distillery in Downtown Los Angeles. I had not been to the distillery before and thought it would be fun to visit. Little did I know what to expect and I must say that without a doubt, the distillery tour at Lost Spirits is like no other distillery tour and it definitely made it the Please The Palate pick of the week.
Lost Spirits Distillery is located on East 6th Street, off of South Alameda Street in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles. A street full of nondescript warehouses, the red building of Lost Spirits stand out.
Lost Spirits was founded by Bryan Davis and Joanne Haruta in 2010 in Monterey County. They opened their laboratory in Silicon Valley in 2014 and in 2017 launched in Los Angeles. Lost Spirits is a producer of rum and whisky.
The tagline of Lost Spirits is “Science. Innovation. Art.” and that is what they are. Through a proprietary aging process that David created, Lost Spirits can produce an aged rum in less than a week. Davis’ process involves special lights breaking wood down into flavor precursors which then accelerates the aging of the wood. The spirit is then heated, with the pieces of wood, to form the flavors you get in an aged spirit.
As Lost Spirits has redefined the production of rum and whisky, it is no surprise that they also redefined the distillery visit. In fact, it is not a visit or tour but an experience. A distillery tour at Lost Spirits is like a trip to Disneyland (on a smaller budget) and using advanced technology and a creative mind, you will be transported to another world.
We entered the space, covered with red draped walls and a long hallway ahead of us.
A voice began to speak to us. It was TESSA, an autonomous computer system that runs the distillery. She welcomed us and at the end of the walkway, the doors opened.
We walked closer where we found a nautical themed tasting room with an open globe with glasses of Lost Spirits Navy Rum. We each took a glass and then took a seat in large black leather chairs. Our guide was Bryan Davis, the founder, who shared the story behind Navy style rum, explaining that the British Royal Navy would mix a small sample of the spirit with gunpowder and try to ignite it. If the spirit was over a certain strength, the powder would light, and if under, it would not. Navy style rum is above 57 abv.
The room went pitch black and then the chandelier flickered.
And then a curtain opened and it was like we entered the Pirates of the Caribbean meets Jungle Cruise at Disneyland. We then climbed aboard a wooden boat where we drift slowly down a dark tunnel with the sound of thunder and birds and the flicker of cat eyes in the distance.
We traveled down an actual river which is the distillery’s water. They did not have enough electricity and created the river as a heat sink, or a power plant.
As a result, not only did we have a river to travel down but we also felt like we were in the jungle with the heat and humidity.
The boat ferries you to the fermentation and distillation room. There are several copper vats fermenting molasses, water and yeast.
We then followed the path and came upon two dragon-designed copper stills, where the rum gets distilled twice.
Bryan then approached large wooden doors.
He opened the doors to the next room and a bright white light glared at us. We were out of the jungle.
This bright white room is the barrel room. But unlike most distilleries which actually have barrels, this is the technology room where Bryan’s light aging technology is utilized.
From the barrel room, we entered a hallway called the Room of Egos. As one of the most awarded boutique distillers in the world, this is where the Lost Spirits team can show off all of their accomplishments. The Room of Egos is well-deserved.
Best Distillery Tour in the World, 2018 – Drinks International
Global Master Award, 2018 – The Spirits Business UK
Best Distillery Experience, 2018 – American Distilling Institute
Liquid Gold, 2018 – Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible
Best in Class, 2017 – International Rum Renaissance Festival
Double Gold Medal Award Winner 2016 – The 50 Best NY
Gold Medal Award Winner 2016 – International Rum Renaissance Festival
Best Spirits of 2015 – Serious Eats
Best Spirits of 2015 – Wine & Spirits
Global Master Award 2015 – The Spirits Business UK
Nominated for Craft Distillery of the Year 2014 – Whisky Magazine
Liquid Gold, 2014 – Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible
Best In Class 2014 – Miami Rum Renaissance
Best Spirits of 2014 – Liquor.com
Just when we thought the tour was over, we wandered through the garden jungle for the whisky tour.
Here we entered a room where we were greeted by a large wooden carousel.
We took our seats and the carousel began to go round and round. The room went dark and eerie carnival music played. Finally we came to a stop as we arrived at our next stop. Inspired by H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, we sat at a long wooden table surrounded by both authentic and less-than-authentic antiques and tasted the Lost Spirits’ Abomination, made from spirit sourced in Islay and transformed in California to be a rapid-aged heavily-peated malt.
After enjoying our whisky, we heard the sudden sound of cannibals coming so we all hid in the coat closet….and ended up in the Lost Spirits gift shop where we entertained by a bird show, think Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland. The entire unexpected experience at Lost Spirits was by far the Please The Palate pick of the week.
To enjoy your own Distillery Tour Experience, you must make a reservation online. Lost Spirits Distillery is not open to the public without a reservation.
1235 E.6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90021