South Hollow Spirits Distillery | Cape Cod, MA

Posted on Jul 17, 2017


South Hollow Spirits Distillery

When we were deliberating two years ago whether or not to move from Boston to DC, the job opportunities and the sense of adventure eventually swayed us in the direction of making the move. But it was no easy decision. To ease the pain of saying goodbye to our beloved city, we made ourselves a few deals; one of them was that despite the increased distance every other year we would still vacation on Cape Cod. Having spent our first summer vacation away from Boston on a trip to France, we duly reserved our beachside cottage on the Cape for this one.

While we love to travel to far flung places and to experience new things, the Cape fills a special place in our hearts. It’s the place we go to relax. We love the slower pace, the fact that it’s familiar but a complete change of scenery, that it’s not far away from the city but feels like it’s a different world. In particular, we love Truro, a little village of seaside cottages on a long stretch of beach, on a narrow neck of land that connects Provincetown to the rest of the Cape. With big, quiet beaches on either oceanside or bayside, it’s far from the busy touristy vibe further up the Cape, but only a couple of miles away from Provincetown if you want a good brunch.

If we tire of the beach, which is hardly ever, there’s exactly one thing to do in Truro itself: go to the winery. Improbably, on this little spit of land in Massachusetts, you’ll find the quaintest little vineyard with a pleasant picnic ground for tasting the wares and a bite or two from the food truck. Since we last visited, they’ve added a distillery to the scene. While Massachusetts actually has a venerable history of rum-making, stretching back to the colonial era, South Hollow Spirits takes their inspiration from somewhat more recent history: rum-running during Prohibition. Their rum is named after the 20 Coast Guard and Harbor Police boats eluded by one boatload of smugglers who eventually escaped into Provincetown with their rum, though they had to leave the boat behind.

20 Boat white rum, distilled from sugar cane juice in the traditional French style, has a clean flavor, with just a whiff of the grassiness you expect from cane juice rums. Their spiced rum is dark and rich, with molasses added to the sugar cane. It’s packed with the nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice you’d expect in a spiced rum, both softened and complexified by the addition of vanilla and anise. The most interesting addition to the botanical mix, though, is chai tea. This could lead into the dangerous territory inhabited by flavored coffees and creamers, but the fresh and natural feel of the flavors makes it deliciously interesting instead. It’s obviously a spirit made with winter in mind, but the person leading our tasting suggested that it also works well as part of the mix in a multi-rum tiki drink. We believe her.

South Hollow’s Dry Line Gin was even more fascinating and satisfying than its spiced rum. Typically, indeed almost universally, gin is made from a neutral grain spirit. South Hollow, though, uses their white rum as their gin’s base. This gives the gin a mild and mellow sweetness, rather like Old Tom gin. The customary juniper for the botanical basket is picked on the vineyard’s premises; it’s joined by another less usual local product, cranberries. Neither local nor usual, cardamom and coriander fill out the botanical set, bringing a gently savory element to the gin. This complex blend is done with a subtle touch; it’s flavorful, but it speaks with an indoor voice.

What We Ordered

Roberts: gin, white wine, elderflower, lemon, tonic

What We Thought

The drink is named after the owners of the vineyard, and was created to celebrate the ten year anniversary of its opening. Naturally, both the gin and the wine are made in-house. The otherwise light flavoring of the drink gave the gin’s uniqueness a chance to shine. The prominence of the gin’s flavors was rare for a summer cooler like this, softened as it was by the addition of both wine and tonic. We very much enjoyed this specific drink, and could imagine toying with its structure with other flavor combinations. We’re curious how absinthe or Chartreuse might taste in place of the elderflower. I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.

If You Go

Bring a little cash. You can pay with a card for tastings or bottles of wine or spirits–and various other nicknacks–in the winery’s store. But the food truck and the outdoor drink stand in the picnic area are both cash only. If you forget, there is an ATM on the premises.