Fairbanks Distilling Company, located downtown in the refurbished historic City Hall, is blending nostalgia with innovation, renewing and revitalizing downtown while preserving the frontier-ism that makes Fairbanks the best city in Alaska.
Patrick Levy, owner and distiller, took a break last Friday from hand-squeezing blood oranges to guide us through his small-batch distilling process. His passion for the process was evident in every word as he walked us through the hospital-clean, state-of-the-art distilling room. He pointed out the old garage doors, still hung from the days when City Hall was co-located with the Fire Department; there are rumors that the old main entrance doors are tucked away in some guy’s back yard, possibly to be stumbled upon again someday. “I hope I get dibs,” Patrick joked.
Every aspect of Fairbanks Distilling Company’s business model has been carefully considered, from the label that Patrick hand-applies to every bottle of vodka, to the local resources utilized in the distilling process.
“I love our process of making vodka out of Yukon Gold potatoes and Fox Spring water,” says Patrick.
“In the spirit distillation process, the output from the Still is divided into three parts or cuts: Heads, Hearts, and Tails. The Heads are the portion of the distillate that consist of things that are not good to drink, such as acetone and methanol. The hearts are what our vodka is made out of and is 190+ proof ethanol. The tails are the alcohols that are lower than 190 proof and consist of off-flavors and off-smells (also not good to drink). Naturally, this is a simple explanation of what is going on. In reality, a distiller uses his senses of smell and taste to supplement the other distillery tools for measuring liquid density and proof.”
Following the distillation process, normally the Heads are mixed with water and safely disposed of by distillers. Pat saves the ethanol heads leftover from his distillation process, and plans to use them in the ethanol fireplace that was purchased in 2015, and will be installed in the tasting room this year. Downtown Association is heartily impressed by this lack of waste, and excited about the soon-to-come outdoor seating area, located just outside a pair of beautiful French doors on the distillery’s sidewalk space.
Whether you’re a local Fairbanksan or a visitor, Fairbanks Distilling Company offers quality of product, service, and surroundings in one of downtown Fairbanks’ most memorable historical buildings. Stop by for one or two of the rotating drink specials, which are concocted with seasonal produce; say hello to the friendly and downtown-savvy bartenders, and maybe you’ll even catch Patrick juicing oranges in the back.