Today’s adventure: Making gin!

Today’s adventure: Making gin!

Rob Sergent mixes up ingredients I’ve chosen for my own gin. Pam LeBlanc photo

Me and gin, we’ve got a thing.

Last week, during a trip to Park City, Utah, I mixed a blend of botanicals to create my very own gin, suitable for sipping.

Rob Sergent, owner of Alpine Distilling (which, besides making booze, has a pie bar!) walked me through the process.

But first, he poured me a cocktail made with the distillery’s Preserve Liquor, flavored with blood orange, black tea, lemon balm, raspberry and ginger, and told me a bit about the business.

I sipped it. Yum. And at first my notes were clearly legible.

I chose from this list of ingredients. Pam LeBlanc photo

I carefully jotted down that Alpine Distilling, at 350 Main Street, makes vodka, gin, bourbon, whiskey and a few liquors. I also noted that the distillery’s gin is crafted with juniper berries imported from Croatia. Depending on what type of other botanicals are added, you can vary its taste.

Sergent handed me a small card listing a whole array of ingredients, from coriander to rose hips to grapefruit peel. He explained a little about each one, and what it would add to the gin – or take away.

All gin contains juniper, but botanicals are what make them taste different. Pam LeBlanc photo

I sipped a little more of my cocktail.

First, I had to decide whether I wanted my gin to have light, medium or heavy juniper flavor. At Sergent’s suggestion I chose light, since I wanted my gin for sipping instead of stirring into a gin and tonic. He also recommended that I add a dash of coriander. Check, and check.

From there, though, things got creative. Also, my notes got sloppy.

Here’s my secret brew, topped with some orange slices. Pam LeBlanc photo

I know that I chose orris root as a binder, then added licorice root, ginger root, and dried orange, lemon and grapefruit peel. (Fresh peel – and I did add a little fresh orange peel to my special brew – tends to add a bitter note).

Sergent then presented the ingredients that, used too heavily, could ruin a gin – lavender, cassia bark, chamomile, rose hips, grains of paradise and cardamom. I picked a little cassia bark (cinnamon) and a bit of chamomile, to smooth out the mouth feel. Hopefully it didn’t ruin my gin, but since I haven’t tasted it yet, I can’t tell you for sure.

Sergent placed everything in a copper bowl, tossed it like a fresh salad, then handed the whole kaboodle to an assistant, who dashed back into what looked like an upscale chemistry lab crossed with a Kentucky still. (Sergent hails from Kentucky, and photos of his relatives distilling their own booze hang on the walls).

The assistant went to work in the chemistry lab. Pam LeBlanc photo

Alpine Distillers’ gin is built on a base of strong vodka, which is heated and mixed with the botanicals. So is some other stuff, but by this point I’d quit taking notes.

I do remember the assistant hovering over the copper pots in that glassed-in back room, wearing safety glasses and looking like she was having lots of fun.

Now I’m just waiting for my gin to age a few more days. Then I’ll bake a pecan pie, because Sergent says gin and pie make good company.

Or I’ll just take it on my next winter hike in the woods.

“Everything we do is inspired by nature. Put it in a flask, get outside. That’s why Alpine Distillery exists,” Sergent says.

I crafted this bottle of gin during a recent trip to Park City, Utah. Pam LeBlanc photo

This, by the way, wasn’t my first gin rodeo.

Last year, I traveled to West Texas to harvest juniper berries with Molly Cummings and her Wild June Gin. Read that story here.

For more information about Alpine Distillers, go to


About Pam

I’m Pam LeBlanc. Follow my blog to keep up with the best in outdoor travel and adventure. Thanks for visiting my site.

Where is Pam?

Click to open a larger map

Follow Pam

At Woodward in Park City, athletes will hone high-flying skills

At Woodward in Park City, athletes will hone high-flying skills

Woodward Park City is scheduled to open in December. It’s the first Woodward facility with its own ski mountain. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Picture yourself at the top of a halfpipe at a ski resort, trying to work up the nerve to try a new high-flying trick for the first time.

What if you miscalculate, and slam yourself into the hard-packed snow? What if you land wrong or lose control?

Tucker Norred gives a tour of the new Woodward facility being built in Park City, Utah. Pam LeBlanc photo

When Woodward opens its sixth sports playground in Park City this winter, it will provide space where athletes can progressively build their way up to skills.

I got a taste of how it works a few years ago, when I skied down an indoor, carpet-covered ramp and into a pit filled with blue foam blocks at the Woodward facility in Copper Mountain, Colorado. (You mean I can launch myself off that ramp without breaking bones? Cool!)

During a trip to Utah last week, I stopped by the busy construction site where Woodward Park City is scheduled to open this December.

Woodward started 45 years ago as a camp for gymnasts in Pennsylvania. Since then, it’s expanded into winter sports like snowboarding and freestyle skiing, plus skateboarding, mountain biking, BMX biking and more. It also operates training facilities in Colorado, California and Mexico.

Woodward’s new facility in Park City will feature indoor and outdoor training grounds for mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, BMX, tumbling, skateboarding and more. Pam LeBlanc photo

The 125-acre campus in Park City will mark the first Woodward with its own ski mountain and lift. When finished, it will also include its own tubing hill, BMX dirt jumps, indoor and outdoor parkour space, and a 66,000-square-foot indoor facility where guests can learn the basics of balance and coordination.

We donned yellow hardhats as Olympic bronze medal gymnast Phoebe Mills (who also had a successful career as a diver and snowboarder, then earned a law degree), now director of programming at Woodward Park City, explained more about the facility and Tucker Norred, director of communications for the new park, toured us through the grounds as a light rain fell.

At Woodward, everything is about progression. Athletes learn balance and coordination and boost their confidence indoors, where a crash landing means flopping into a pit filled with foam blocks or airbags, where they’re less likely to get hurt. From there, they advance to a larger version of the same thing, then to the real thing, outside or on concrete.

“We’re a training ground for athletes, whether it’s just learning a sport or wherever you’re at in your career,” Mills said. “All of these progression tools are designed to make learning a trick safer.”

Inside, we tiptoed around welders creating handrails and carpenters sculpting huge curving walls that skateboarders will one day ricochet across. Head designer Nathan Wessel, who has helped design other Woodward facilities, told us that this park will be the first with indoor parkour space.

Outside, eight ski and snowboard runs will fan out from the top of the ski lift, and guests will have access to an array of features, from an enormous halfpipe to terrain parks bristling with jumps, rails and boxes. There’s even a tubing hill. Snowmaking will keep everything frosted in white.

“We take people from never-ever to the Olympics,” Norred said.

Woodward will also offer classes in digital media and video production, for those who want to capture all the eye-popping athletic feats and share them with others.

Woodward is banking on the idea that people coming to the Salt Lake City area to ski at Park City, Deer Valley, Snowbird, Alta and other resorts will tack on an extra day to experience Woodward.

The new park, which will have its own café and bar, will be open 365 days a year and will offer monthly memberships and day passes.

About Pam

I’m Pam LeBlanc. Follow my blog to keep up with the best in outdoor travel and adventure. Thanks for visiting my site.

Where is Pam?

Click to open a larger map

Follow Pam