Cisco Brewers, Nantucket Vineyards and the Triple-Eight Distillery produce enough beer, wine, vodka, tequila, rum, bourbon, whiskey and gin to provide the island, the region and much of the U.S. with high quality, delicious libations.
The “Brewery”, as islanders and Nantucket visitors refer to these three alcohol producers, includes three buildings that form a courtyard space perfect for after-work or after-beach drinks, parties, and special events. Music is a vital part of the brewery scene with two or three acts playing there seven days a week during the summer and on weekends during the winter. The brewery encourages food vendors, including food trucks, to set up their mobile kitchens and serving stations on the premises.
Started in 1981 by Dean and Melissa Long, this trio of beverage makers began as a winery called Nantucket Vineyards. The Longs grew their own grapes and completed the fermentation and bottling processes on the premises.
Nantucket Vineyards grew its own grapes for 18 years with limited success, finally succumbing to Nantucket’s harsh winters and opting to purchase their grapes from New York, Oregon and Washington State. The result, many islanders agree, is a substantial improvement in the quality of their wines.
Cisco Brewers followed with Randy Hudson and his wife-to-be, Wendy Morton. The well-known story of Cisco Brewers’ germination is that Wendy, a home brewer in college, gave Randy his own home-brewing kit on their second date in the summer of 1992 and the fun continued from there.
Last of all came Triple-Eight Distillery, named for the well from which its water is drawn. Although known for its many flavors of vodka including blueberry and cranberry, Triple-Eight gained global notoriety for its notch. This liquor is whiskey, but distillers outside of Scotland cannot legally call it Scotch whiskey, so Notch is the Nantucket adaptation. Triple-Eight’s Notch has logged national accolades and in early 2013 was recognized by Whiskey Magazine as the best American single malt whiskey.
The brewery’s beer, wine and spirits operations feed off each other, attracting their loyal fans. During the warmer months, the brewery is packed with a largely summer visitor crowd, but many year-round residents take comfort in the fact that summer and early fall only lasts so long. With the onset of winter comes a tighter, more local atmosphere in which everyone knows everyone.
If you get the chance, check out the brewery in all seasons.