Mike Selberg earned degrees in biology and chemistry. So what to do for a career? Open a distillery, of course.
"It seemed the most fun way to make use of the degrees," says Selberg. The Cannon Beach, Oregon resident opened The Cannon Beach Distillery just over a year ago at the west coast seaside town where he's lived since the age of six. The hand-made, small-batch spirits Selberg offers are infused with his scientific know-how and the spirit of adventure and exploration that defines the majestic Oregon coast.
Selberg got his first taste of distilling in Chemistry class at age 19. After that, he started brewing beer, which provided experience in fermentation and a foundation for developing future spirits.
"If you can make a good beer, you can make a good whiskey," says Selberg.
Cannon Beach on the North Oregon Coast is famous for its distinctive beach, and the ancient Haystack Rocks that frame the shoreline. Lewis and Clark explored the region in January of 1806. Clark described Cannon Beach in his diary: “From this point, I be held the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed.”
In 1846, a Navy schooner sank in the area, reportedly carrying three cannons. One was said to have been recovered and the area was thereafter named Cannon Beach.
Mike Selberg's Cannon Beach Distillery is tucked into a secluded cul-de-sac at the north end of town. He's exploring many different styles of spirits with his own twist.
The distillery is decorated in rich earth tones, sandy wood and smoked glass and evokes imagery of rugged shorelines and burnished beach glass.
On a rainy summer afternoon, Selberg is sampling two styles of rum he's created. Dorymen's Rum is an evaporated cane juice based rum that is glassy clear and light in taste. Selberg says it's ideal for a refreshing rum cocktail like a mojito. Dorymen's is smooth and sweet and tastes like a lively sea shanty on the tongue.
Dolon Shanks Amber Rum is caramel color and aged in heavily charred American white oak barrels. The buttery, smoky, rum is named after the two streets Selberg grew up between. Selberg uses blackstrap molasses, and the sampling we try has the character of an aged whisky that can be sipped slowly and enjoyed. The amber rum is his most popular spirit.
Selberg offers two styles of gin -- Peter's Family Gin and Lost Buoy Gin. He's also got several spirits in production. His bourbon -- made of corn, rye and barley -- will be ready for sale in 2014, and a rye -- made of malted and unmalted rye and barley -- will come of age in 2015.
As a new entrepreneur, Selberg works long hours. He's typically at work in the distillery for five or six hours in the morning before the tasting room opens in the afternoon, and he usually logs a 12 to 13 hour day. Selberg says if he makes a hire in the future, he will bring someone on to staff the tasting room, so he can focus on his work in the distillery, leaving the scientist more time to come up with his next discovery.
Cannon Beach Distillery is located at 255 N Hemlock, BLDG C, Cannon Beach, OR 97110 - 503-436-0301. firstname.lastname@example.org
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