Business

Getting ready to taste the Oakhurst Spirits

Michael Benbrook, left, and Ally Benbrook plan on opening Oakhurst Spirits, a craft distillery, tasting room, and art gallery in March on Greenwood Way.
Michael Benbrook, left, and Ally Benbrook plan on opening Oakhurst Spirits, a craft distillery, tasting room, and art gallery in March on Greenwood Way. Sierra Star

Next spring, a new Oakhurst business will open its doors and invite guests to enter a world of artistry, both on the canvas and in a sip of its craft-style distilled liquors.

Named Oakhurst Spirits, owners Ally and Michael Benbrook of San Diego said it will serve as a distillery, tasting room, and art gallery, all from one location on Greenwood Way off Stagecoach Road.

“The whole thing becomes about the experience of sitting down and tasting our different spirits, seeing what’s in them, how they’re made, and what you like about them and why,” Ally Benbrook said. “It’s about that experience, education, and fun, all in one place.”

With an expected opening date in March, the Benbrooks said they plan on distilling everything from whiskey to limoncello in a 1,200-square-foot portion of the building that guests can tour.

They said as they’ve regularly visited Yosemite the last 16 years, they fell in love with the Mountain Area and were inspired to prepare their business, as well as move in by November.

“This whole area is so beautiful,” Ally said. “We love it. Everyone is so friendly, and it’s so quiet and peaceful. We love it here, and we’re excited to be a part of this great community.”

Michael, a member of the U.S. Navy for 20 years and a craft beer brewer since the 1990s, said his goal for the distillery portion of Oakhurst Spirits was to instill a little personality, and a lot of flavor, into the product.

“You can see how whiskey is made on an industrial scale, but you can’t sit down with, say, Jack Daniels and talk about it,” Benbrook said. “That’s the thing with Jack Daniels, it lacks personality. If you buy a bottle in China or a bottle in Kentucky, it’s the same. And we want to show how great, how unique a small scale, craft liquor can be.”

Along with small-scale distilling, where Michael plans to inject new flavors and styles into a variety of liquors, the Benbrooks said they’ll look to name their new creations by choosing historic names from people and places specific to the Mountain Area.

Inside the location’s tasting room, guests will be able to enjoy 1.25 ounces of whichever liquor they choose - the legal limit for distillers to provide - while listening to music, speaking with other guests, or taking part in whatever event the Benbrooks plan to host.

One door away, they can also sip a barrel-aged rum, for example, while walking through an art gallery containing both Ally’s watercolor paintings, and additional pieces from other Mountain Area artists invited to show their work.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, the Benbrooks said, as they closed escrow on the building Aug. 31 and are still moving in. Their website, www.oakhurstspirits.com, is still under construction, but they can be contacted through www.allybenbrook.com.

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