On May 24, 2011, after it had passed both the Senate and the House, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed the bill entitled Chapter 55, HF 1326/SF 918 into law. “Chapter 55, HF 1326/SF 918” might have been a perfectly acceptable name for a bill to politicians and lawmakers, but, obviously, it lacked a bit of punch and clarity for rest of us, which is why it became more popularly known as “the Surly Bill.” Surly Brewing, a forerunner of Minnesota’s craft brewing scene, led a popular, well-supported campaign to change some of the state’s fusty liquor laws so that craft beer producers could sell their products on site. The bill’s passing lead to an explosion of craft breweries and tap rooms, creating one of the more vibrant beer scenes in the country. But that’s not all this piece of legislation created. There was also a small provision that lowered the yearly distillery license fee from $30,000 to $1,000. Suddenly, along with a rampaging beer scene, Minnesota also saw the birth of its own craft distilling movement.
Thanks to co-founder Dan Oskey, Minneapolis’ Tattersall Distillery was one of the more hotly anticipated distilleries and cocktail rooms to open as a result of all that politicking and lawmaking. Oskey is a renowned bartender in the Twin Cities, having created hugely successful bar programs at the Strip Club and the always fun Hola Arepa. Along with that, he’s also created a clever retail kit for making homemade bitters and a successful, delicious line of sodas. Tattersall’s line up is prolific, diverse and is obviously the product of a veteran bartender who really wants to make his own versions of everything he uses. While most new, small distilleries followed the perfectly acceptable path of producing and selling maybe two to five products, often gins, vodkas, young whiskeys, and maybe even something a little less traditional, Tattersall currently has over 20 different spirits and liqueurs on their roster. These are available not only in the distillery’s Northeast neighborhood taproom and throughout the great state of Minnesota, but are now distributed in 15 other states as well.
In the coming months, I hope to profile this distillery in more detail, and continue to take a look at their diverse line. For now, to start with, here’s the Tattersall Amaro, the distillery’s take on the classic Italian herbal liqueur.
The Nose: Herbal and sweet. Quite a bit of licorice-esque notes, wormwood, star anise and candied fennel. The sweetness is full of dark, floral honey, a little elderflower, and perhaps even a touch of light molasses. There’s a nice integrated gentian bitterness throughout. In the background, there are subtle notes of lemon verbena and cardamom,
The Palate: Sweet, but less syrupy and cloying than other amari. Star Anise, fennel, clove, dark floral honey are strongest, with a little citrus zest as well. Just as complex as the nose, perhaps even a little weightier and earthier. The gentian from the nose does carry over nicely. There’s a tannic quality about this, a “dryness” that’s very appealing.
The Finish: Gentian, light mint, more star anise and licorice candies, along with a little clove, and a slight tannic grippy-ness at the last.
Thoughts: Quite good. This is a relatively lighter amaro, not so much in its complexity and flavor profile, but in its concentration and in its sweetness. The relative toned-down sweetness is definitely welcome. On the other hand, the lighter concentration has occasionally left me wishing this had a bit more punch and strength, especially sipping neat or on ice. That said, I’ve really enjoyed playing with the Tattersall Amaro in cocktails, I think that’s where it’s at its best. The reduced sweetness and lighter feel makes it a great supporting character along side gins and whiskeys. Good stuff that has me looking forward to trying other Tattersall bottles.
*Bonus serendipitous cocktail! Perhaps my favorite use of this so far came in a what-the-hell-why-not riff on a Boulevardier using Tattersall Amaro, Campari, and the Penna Dutch Malt Whiskey from New Liberty Distilling. Herbal and complex, with surprising coffee and unsweetened cocoa notes, the amaro worked great with the fiery, young roasty malt, and reigned in the sugary side of things. I’ve made more than a few of these in last couple of months.
- Garland, John. “The Next Craft Boom?” Growler Magazine, 8 Apr. 2013
“Governor Dayton signs Omnibus Liquor Bill, including provision for Surly Brewing Co.” Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith, 24 May 2011
March, Stephanie. “Coming Soon: Dan Oskey’s Tattersall Distilling.” Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, 20 Jan. 2015
- Rietmulder, Michael. “Meet Minnesota’s most anticipated distillery, Tattersall Distilling.” City Pages, 6 July 2015
- “Tattersall Distilling.” Tattersall Distilling