In need of a day trip away from city life? Visiting Sourland Mountain Spirits’ Distillery in Hopewell, New Jersey, has what you might be looking for. Situated on eight acres and surrounded by farmland, the distillery is the perfect urban escape to a rural area only a little over an hour away from Hoboken. The family-owned business features more than a tour — it has tastings of the popular nationwide spirits brand and a hotspot nearby. Read on for details of taking a day trip to Sourland Spirits.
(Photo credit: Courtesy of Sourland Mountain Spirits)
Tour + Tasting
Sourland Mountain Spirits is recognized nationally as having one of the top gins. In the spring of 2020, its flagship gin beat out 271 gins in an international competition. It earned the title of double gold medal for placing first in the Botanical Gin competition — it’s made with 12 different botanicals — and Best in the Show. It’s become one of the brand’s top sellers.
Read More: Cocktails at Corgi Spirits: Jersey City’s First Distillery
The Distillery Tour + Tasting operates all year long, but the hour-long tours are only available Saturdays and Sundays from 2PM-5PM. Spots get booked up quickly, especially in the summertime, so it’s recommended to reserve in advance. The location is 130 Hopewell Rocky Hill Road, Hopewell, NJ.
During the tour, guests will be greeted by the friendly founder Ray Disch who is normally there on Saturdays. Ray will bring the group to the room where the magic happens.
It’s there where he shares the background of the distillery before it officially opened in 2015. But, before then, he worked hard years ago – back in 1995 — to first make breweries legal in the Garden State. He’s joined by his wife Erica Disch, who focuses on sales and special events, and his son, Sage Disch, who was recently promoted to CEO. Fun fact: Sage is a resident of Hoboken!
“I love doing the tours. I’ve been doing these tours now for six years. I get to meet interesting people. I put my heart and soul into it,” founder Ray Disch told Hoboken Girl. “I get to explain the distilling process and then walk through a nice, patient, wonderful tasting. And then hopefully they become a believer in the distillery and our commitment to quality and craft.”
Ray, a funny laid-back Irish man, also will walk through the machines and equipment used to make the spirits. The factory distills, ages, fills, and labels every bottle by hand. Per the website, “You’ll be immersed in the sights, smells, and flavors of a true craft experience.”
At the end of the tour, guests will get to taste some of the brand’s famous spirits, including its gin, gin reserve, vodka, and the seasonal flavor (right now it’s pumpkin spiced whiskey, which came out around Halloween).
Afterward, guests can pay extra for additional tastings and can take home any of the bottles, including the new cabernet cask-finished bourbon.
The market also sells specialty cocktails to go in a mason jar, plus shot glasses and glass cups with the distillery’s logo. The flavors of the cocktails include Tart + Twisted Vodka, High Tea Gin, Merry Cherry Bourbon, and Apple Pie Moonshine.
In addition, Sourland sells its own exclusive cranberry-sauced canned cocktails in a pack of four, which just launched before Thanksgiving for the second year in a row. The cans blend gin, farm-fresh cranberries, rosemary, honey, and lemon.
Worth the Trip
After the scenic hour-long drive to Hopewell, the best way to start your day is with a hike in the Sourland Mountains. During the warmer months, the Sourland Mountain Preserve has become a popular spot to go hiking, as they’ve become one of the best hiking locations in NJ. There are 11 trails ranging from 131 to 659 feet in elevation.
Following the exploration of mother nature, guests normally reserve a table at Brick Farm Tavern, a historic farmhouse. Reservations for this hotspot also fill up fast. The farm-to-table restaurant (coming from nearby farms) is located on the same property as the distillery, making it the perfect place to grab lunch, or dinner if you have a later appointment for the tour.
^ Brick Farm Tavern restaurant
The New American menu includes an artisanal cheese plate to start, a charcuterie board, Double Brook Farm half chicken, Moroccan lamb meatballs, and a 100 percent grass-fed Devon beef burger among other items. To top it off, the unique restaurant has a wine cellar in the basement stocked with various wines. There’s also a cocktail menu, including drinks made with gin, vodka, and whiskey from Sourland Mountain Spirits, of course.
If you still have room for more liquor following dinner, there is a bar inside the restaurant where you can sit and enjoy your drink of your choice or specialty cocktail. In addition, there is a hut outside on the farm, separate from the restaurant, where you can order a drink from the window and sit outside on the lawn chairs to enjoy it with friends or loved ones. In the colder months, they even have a fire pit going to keep guests warm.
Lucky guests who visit on special days will get to also check out Troon Brewing, which is also on the massive property, but only when they have beer cans for sale. Follow their Instagram to find out about those specific days.
Keeping the Spirit Alive
Ray teased that additional new flavors of Sourland Mountain Spirits will be coming out in the future.
(Courtesy of Sourland Mountain Spirits)
“We just keep getting better. We’re going to really push to grow the brand in 2023,” he told Hoboken Girl. “We’ll bring back the strawberry vodka when strawberries are at their peak. We’ll also do a pear vodka as well when pears are at their peak. And we only use Jersey fruit and many times we only use Jersey grains. We try to source as local as possible because that’s part of our niche. We are NJ’s farm distillery.”
Ray had made note that their popular special release from last year, the blueberry honey vodka, will be back again and sold for a longer time period. The blueberries come straight from a farm in Hammonton where they got “almost 1,800 pounds of blueberries” to concoct the liquor.
As an added spoiler, Ray also told HG that he’s working on “Distillery no. 2” or “D2” as he calls it. “It’s going to be awesome. We are looking at three different farms,” he teased. “We want to grow our own corn and barley and rye and really be farm to glass.”
^ The Disch family: Erica, Sage, and Ray
(Courtesy of Sourland Mountain Spirits)
In the meantime, you can still enjoy the taste of Sourland Spirits back in Hoboken and Jersey City all year long. The award-winning brand can be found inside the liquor stores Cork Wines + Spirits, Wine Dad’s, Sparrow Wine + Liquors, Cheese + Wine, and ShopRite.
There are also cocktails at various locations in Hoboken that include drinks made with Sourland Spirits. These include Stingray Lounge, Sirenetta, and Olivia’s.
Plus, keep an eye out for Sourland Spirits popping up at festivals in Hoboken and Jersey City where locals who stop by the brand’s table can take a voucher for a free tour. Maybe you’ll even get to meet fellow Hobokenite, Sage.