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Camp 1805’s Downstream Whiskey A Spirit Those Lewis And Clark Guys Would Love

Hood River, Oregon is a city known for its love of outdoor activities. Whether it is world class windsurfing on the Columbia River or skiing/snowboarding on nearby Mt. Hood, it is considered a top destination for this lifestyle. In association with this lifestyle one must enjoy craft drinks, of course, which is why Hood River is loaded down with micro-breweries and wineries for a little “after your outdoor fun” imbibing. Joining this drinking train of late is a new distillery, Camp 1805, which surfaced onto our radar for its release today of its first aged whiskey.

Part of Camp 1805 Distillery's rustic bar (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)
Part of Camp 1805 Distillery’s rustic bar (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

The distillery, about an hour’s drive from Portland, is set near the banks of the Columbia River, so in a way you can enjoy a whiskey with a view should you choose to visit here. I did just that for this story, though granted it is rainy season here in Oregon so it was a wet experience to say the least. Melancholic feelings quickly sweep aside though when you combine a glass of Camp 1805’s new product and the distillery’s rather stunning bar interior.

My two bottles of Camp 1805's Downstream Whiskey (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)
My two bottles of Camp 1805’s Downstream Whiskey (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

Camp 1805 was founded mid-last year by two friends, Chris Taylor and Roy Slayton. Its name is based upon the famous Lewis and Clark expedition that explored the Pacific Northwest, and the western US in general, in the early 1800s for the U.S. government. The tie-in is that in 1805 they camped in the Columbia Gorge, which is where Hood River is located.

The masterminds behind the Camp 1805 Distillery idea (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)
The masterminds behind the Camp 1805 Distillery idea (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

Taylor and Slayton, upon starting Camp 1805, always had it in mind to create an aged whiskey product. By the time the new Downstream Whiskey, as it is called, was set to be released today they already had debuted a white whiskey, vodka and rum. As for Downstream, it is described by them as a 100 percent malt whiskey they made from Pacific Northwest grains which was aged in a variety of different 15 gallon barrels and finished in charred new American oak. Total age time of the whiskey is around seven months, making it a bit on the youngish side but, as I can tell you from trying it while I was there, it is very smooth.

Downstream was distilled on Camp 1805’s all copper Hoga still, which they got from Spain. It is a fancy looking setup, which you can actually view behind a glass wall as a major feature in the rustic bar I previously mentioned. The bar is a major selling point for this distillery, being one of the first in Oregon to have such a facility on site. They serve food and other drinks here as well, should you happen to be in town looking for a cocktail and nibble.

Now Hood River is known to many as the home of Pendleton Whisky, a Canadian whisky import brought into the States by Hood River Distillers. Camp 1805 works more or less in the shadow of its much larger neighbor, who recently made its own foray into craft distilling through the acquisition of Portland-based Clear Creek. It is a night and day comparison though, as the guys at Camp 1805 do pretty much everything on site short of farming the grains themselves, from grinding down the two row malted barley for Downstream from whole husk to fermenting, distilling and aging in a combination of toasted and charred barrels.

That other distilled spirits outfit in Hood River, Oregon (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)
That other distilled spirits outfit in Hood River, Oregon (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

Downstream Whiskey is in very limited supply right now, consisting of 18 cases of bottles available from the distillery only. A single 750 ml will run you around $45 for this 94 proof spirit. I got myself two, so now it is your turn.

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