Touring Watershed

Written by on July 31, 2012 in Liquor - 5 Comments

Watershed Distillery used to start their tours with a game called Hammerschlagen.

Basically, you take a hammer and try to hit a nail into a log with one swing. Most people bend the nail, making it impossible to drive into the log.

Then someone smashed their hand with the hammer.

Now they start the tour with a game of trivia.

My husband and I were excited to recently join one of Watershed’s weekly tours. We headed to the micro-distillery, which is located off of Northwest Blvd and King Ave in Grandview amidst a bunch of warehouses (including Jeni’s), and crammed our way into the tiny tasting room where about three dozen people were already waiting – apparently it was the last day of a Groupon or Living Social deal, so EVERYONE was there.

Watershed owner/distiller Greg Lehman’s uncle Mark led our tour. After a short and mildly chaotic round of trivia, he shared the story of why Greg decided to open a distillery – he had been playing professional volleyball in Switzerland and became inspired by the many locally-produced liquors found in the area.

Mark then passed around bottles filled with the very fragrant ingredients used in Watershed’s signature gin and vodka products, giving us all a chance to try to identify them by sight and smell, while he educated us about the history of gin.

We were led to the back of the distillery to learn the ins and outs of producing Watershed’s spirits, from using yeast to convert sugar to ethanol, to running the resulting liquid through the still, to bottling and labeling the finished product. With so many people in our tour group in a space so long and narrow, those not forcing their way to the front probably missed a lot of great information from this part of the tour.

We also saw the barrels that are currently aging Watershed’s first bourbon, scheduled to release in November. It will be the first bourbon (legally) crafted in Central Ohio since prohibition. Watershed’s also working on a limited release bourbon-aged gin set to hit shelves in September, which I am beyond excited to try.

Watershed’s tour ended with a taste of the two products in their current liquor lineup, gin and vodka. I LOVE Watershed’s gin (I might be drinking a Watershed G&T while I write this…) so I couldn’t resist taking a bottle home with me – thanks to relatively recent legislation, you can buy the bottle direct from the distillery.

Watershed offers distillery tours every Thursday at 6pm, which last about 60 minutes. Tours are $10 per person – though they seem to be running discounts on Groupon and similar sites sites pretty consistently, so keep an eye out for a deal. Visit to register.

About the Author

Cheryl Harrison. Editor of Drink Up Columbus. Geek of the craft beer/board game/sci-fi varieties. Fan of patios.

5 Comments on "Touring Watershed"

  1. Mickie August 1, 2012 at 12:29 PM · Reply

    I thought it couldn’t be called Bourbon unless it was crafted in Bourbon County, KY? I don’t care what they call it…I’ll belly up to the bar to try it.

    • Cheryl Harrison August 1, 2012 at 1:56 PM · Reply

      I thought that, too, but I learned on the tour that that is just a common misconception! It just has to be made in the U.S. to be classified as a bourbon

  2. Kelly Sauber August 8, 2012 at 7:34 PM · Reply

    Bourbon is a classification by the Federal Govt. It is quoted…
    “Whisky produced in the U.S. at
    not exceeding 80% alcohol by
    volume (160 proof) from a
    fermented mash of not less than
    51 percent corn and stored at not
    more than 62.5% alcohol by
    volume (125 proof) in charred
    new oak containers”.
    Note there is no “age in barrel” limitation. To be called a “Straight Bourbon” it must be a min of 2 years in the wood.

    • Cheryl Harrison August 9, 2012 at 9:30 AM · Reply

      thanks for the “official” definition! cheers

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