Portland's rep as a maker of great distillates was built on pear brandy—those impossible-seeming fruit-filled bottles from Steve McCarthy-founded Clear Creek Distillery, which will move its operations closer to Hood River's pear orchards next year.
But with New Deal's new pear brandy ($39.95), Portland will get a worthy successor. Released just before Thanksgiving, it's almost the polar opposite of Clear Creek's famously bright, crisp spirit. Fermented from a pulp of whole Bartlett pears from Oregon's Pereday Orchards before undergoing pot distillation, New Deal's new brandy is like the bass to Clear Creek's tenor. The earthy brandy tastes beautifully of skin and seed and yeast, with roundness of flavor and the crystalline sweetness of dried fruit.
Distiller Tom Burkleaux also tried test batches with Anjou and Bosc pears this summer, but the traditional Bartlett still reigned supreme: The fullness of the fruit in this brandy is pretty much remarkable. Feel free to mix it, but not before you drink it neat.