Alchemy connects Truckee’s railroad history to a roaring future.
Old Trestle Distillery began as a solution to a problem — one that a group of Truckee friends recognized back in 2012: The world’s best whiskey had yet to be created.
So the group, affiliated with Truckee Craft Ventures alongside Drunken Monkey Sushi and FiftyFifty Brewing Co., set off to build Truckee’s first new distillery in more than 100 years, “bringing the science and art of distilling back to the Sierra Nevada,” according to Old Trestle Distillery’s website.
“There were multiple distilleries, although not legal, in Truckee’s distant past — most of which contributed to burning down the town,” says co-founder Andy Barr, referring to a series of fires in Downtown Truckee in the 19th century.
The name Old Trestle Distillery is purposefully reminiscent of the area’s railroad history. The Old Trestle brand simultaneously nods to the ways of the past while firmly looking into the future.
“It represents connecting people and places, and it represents progress,” Barr says.
Putting the “Craft” in Craft Spirits
As with any business venture, crafting spirits is a process of trial and error, a game of tinkering that ultimately leads to progress. At Old Trestle, there’s been a considerable amount of tinkering, an effort that has proven worthwhile and led to several awards for its spirits.
Whiskey is the distillery’s be-all, end-all, but any good spirits lover knows that real whiskey takes time. Old Trestle’s future whiskey, affectionately named “Trestle,” currently is aging in barrels and slated to be ready for tasting by the new year. While whiskey fans wait for Trestle to reach its prime, they can enjoy Sierra Bourbon, the distillery’s first bourbon, which has been available since summer 2020.
Meanwhile, the distillery so far has produced five versions of its Theory Gin. “An experiment in terroir,” the product description says, “Theory Gin is where we push the boundaries of flavors and botanicals. From Chinese teas and spices to ginger to pure Sierra Nevada honey,” any iteration of Theory Gin makes for a lovely craft cocktail.
The team at Old Trestle also proudly touts its Sierra Vodka, the only vodka made with 100 percent Sierra Nevada water. It starts with a base of California yellow corn and then is distilled, filtered, bottled, and labeled in Truckee.
Riverside Craft Cocktails Coming Soon
Patrons have eagerly waited to enjoy Old Trestle spirits at its upcoming tasting room and restaurant, but there “have been significant hurdles with getting the tasting room open,” Barr says.
Locking down a commercial location in Truckee is a feat in itself, but COVID only exacerbated the problem, he says. Fortunately, Barr and his partners found a gorgeous location along the Truckee River.
“But that brings up its own problems in terms of utilities, flood plains, and planning,” he adds.
Despite setbacks, construction is under way, and the tasting room should be open by the beginning of 2022. Prepare for craft spirits and cocktails as well as food, not to mention a beautiful riverside patio in Downtown Truckee.
In the meantime, you can find Old Trestle spirits in select stores, restaurants, and bars throughout Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas. For details, visit Oldtrestle.com.
Emma Schmitz is a writer living in Truckee. She is a community-focused foodie, homebrewer, and beer judge.