Portland International Airport (PDX) features perhaps the most unique Priority Pass options in the country. For traditionalists, PDX offers the Alaska Lounge, a fairly typical airline lounge. But the Alaska Lounge suffers from occasional overcrowding, forcing them to turn away Priority Pass guests. Never fear, PP now teams up with three different alternatives. These include the House Spirits Distillery, Capers Market, and Capers Cafe Le Bar. I’ve long had my eye on the House Spirits Distillery PDX, so that was a no-brainer for my layover.
Note: I also visited the Alaska Lounge, and originally intended to review both together. However, that proved clunky as I started writing it. I’ll review the Alaska Lounge in my next installment.
Concourse C, adjacent to Gate 6. After exiting the security checkpoint, walk towards Concourse C, and the Distillery is on the right.
As an airport concession, anyone can visit the Distillery. However, PP cardholders receive $28 off the final bill, excluding gratuity. The credit applies to food and beverage purchases only (i.e. not towards bottle sales).
Before I get to the review of the Distillery itself, I owe you a few brief words about the true purpose of my day trip. That’s right, my visit to Pine State Biscuits, home of The Reggie. What is The Reggie? See for yourself.
For those keeping score at home, it’s a fried chicken sandwich on a buttermilk biscuit, with bacon, cheese, and cream gravy. It was delicious. But as commenter “japhy” said on the intro post, talk about a gut bomb. The ginormous side of hash browns and a beer also didn’t help matters.
Neither did the chocolate ice cream at Salt & Straw across the street. (Thanks to my Lyft driver for tipping me off to this place.)
Pine State has a location about 15 minutes from the airport. I highly recommend a visit (and to Salt & Straw also) if you have a long layover at PDX. Be aware, though, of the limited hours (7 am-3 pm), and the restaurant’s reputation for long lines. I got there about 1:30 on a Friday, and there was no wait, for what it’s worth. As a reference point, my layover checked in at just under 4 hours. Even with the trip back and forth, I still made it back to the airport with 90 minutes to spare. Just prepare for the week long food coma afterwards.
Anyway, back to the review. House Spirits Distillery PDX is a combination bar and craft liquor store. The space contains just 5 tables spread among the merchandise.
As mentioned, Priority Pass members receive a $28 credit against their final bill, per person. That’s actually a convenient number, since the most expensive option on the menu costs $28. That gets you a whiskey or spirit “flight” (four or five samples, respectively) plus your choice of two mini-cocktails. Just the whiskey flight sets you back $20. Once you decide, ordering is super simple. Just show your Priority Pass card to the bartender, and they’ll run through your visit. In fact, based on her response, it seems the Distillery receives quite a few PP guests.
I decided to do only the whiskey flight. House Spirits Distillery is a “craft” distillery, meaning they make their own goods in-house, right here in Portland. Therefore, the exact selection varies from time to time, though their signature “Westward” whiskey remains all the time.
Your four samples are presented in House Spirits-branded tasting glasses. If you need water, look for a dispenser just in front of and to the right of the bar. Each sample is placed in the order shown on the tasting menu. If you aren’t a whiskey expert, don’t fret. The friendly bartender is happy to help you through your tasting.
I probably enjoyed glass #2, the “Westward” whiskey, the best, while “Barrel 30” proved a little disappointing. Westward featured a malty, oak flavor that made it excellent for sipping. Barrel 30, though, seemed weak for its age, and a little too fruity. If you do find something you like, you can buy a bottle (or two) to take with you. You do receive 10% off merchandise with the purchase of a flight.
If whiskey isn’t your thing, the Distillery also offers the following tasting options:
- Individual mini-cocktails for $5 each
- Flight of 4 cocktails for $15
- Flight of 5 spirits for $10
- Whiskey or spirit flight plus 2 cocktails for $28
Keep in mind that these cocktails are miniature versions. Think of the tasting glasses filled up about 3/4 of the way up. So no, you’re not getting a terrific deal at $5 a pop if paying cash, but it’s not bad, either.
Note that PP warns on its website that the Distillery may turn away PP cardholders due to capacity constraints. Given that the shop has a grand total of 5 tables, I can see that being an issue. However, at 3:15 on a Friday, it didn’t seem terribly busy. Also, you can connect to the airport’s free WiFi while enjoying your drink(s).
House Spirits Distillery PDX – Final Thoughts
Full credit to Priority Pass for coming up with creative ways to get value from a membership. Though the small space is perhaps not the most comfortable to linger for an extended period, a Distillery tasting is a neat way to pass a little time before your flight. I’d say it’s something unique and worth doing even if you had to pay. Give it a try the next time you’re passing through PDX.
Note: this post is part of my trip report series about my recent day trip to Portland. Click here for the trip report index and introductory post.