About the Distilller:

tasting the cuts

Mike Selberg was born in Portland OR and spent his young life bouncing around the Northwest and Colorado.  He spent every summer in Cannon Beach, so it was no surprise that he made it his permanent residence a few days after graduating High School.

 
 

Mike attended the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA where he studied everything from Music to Psychology to Art History, before finally landing in the Natural Sciences. Biology and Chemistry allowed him the opportunity to learn with his hands in Lab classes.

“There was something about starting with an ingredient or compound and manipulating it into something completely different that was intriguing and fun.”

Explaining flavors achieved by manipulating content at the first whiskey release.

Explaining flavors achieved by manipulating content at the first whiskey release.

Mike was introduced to home brewing by his college friends, and continued making beer as a hobby years after he graduated. This foundation in the natural sciences along with experience with fermentation coalesced when Mike and Larry Peters Sr., a friend and regular at the bar he worked at, started discussing what it would take to manufacture Gin. Those discussions planted a seed of an idea that is still growing to this day.

The following year, Mike spent almost every waking moment researching the process of manufacturing distilled spirits. He explored as many distilleries as he could gain access to, read all the books, researched the Internet, enrolled in Whiskey making workshops through the American Distilling Institute, and attended numerous seminars and conventions within the industry.

Every drop of alcohol is mashed, fermented, distilled, proofed, and bottled by hand here in Cannon Beach, Or.

Every drop of alcohol is mashed, fermented, distilled, proofed, and bottled by hand here in Cannon Beach, Or.

“I learned that many, if not most, distilleries did not conduct every step of production to manufacture their spirits. There was a lot of purchasing and blending going on. I couldn’t imagine letting go of any aspect of the process.  There are so many steps to creating a spirit, and each can be manipulated in a host of different ways. I wanted my spirits to be uniquely my own. I wanted to make something that no one had ever tasted before, and the only way to do that was to control as much of the process as I could. There is so much room for experimentation in this industry, it seemed crazy that more distilleries weren’t crafting new styles or new categories of spirits every day.”

In November of 2011, Mike registered Cannon Beach Distillery with the State of Oregon, and began putting plans together to find a space to put it. The next 8 months were a hurricane of permits, planning and logistics. On July 1st 2012, he opened the doors to the tasting room with 3 unlabeled spirits, two Gins and clear Rum. Mike handled every aspect of the startup himself.

Things sure have changed since June 30, 2012.  Pictured here is the original tasting line up in the distillery, days before opening.

Things sure have changed since June 30, 2012.  Pictured here is the original tasting line up in the distillery, days before opening.

For the first year and a half, Mike did everything at the distillery. Every drop of alcohol was mashed, fermented, distilled, proofed, and bottled by his hands. He designed the packaging and labels. He ran the tasting room, often while juggling production, bookkeeping, and everything it takes to run a business.  His mother Gigi was his saving grace with her unwavering support and willingness to do the small things around the shop that kept the business together.

My mom Gigi sparkling up the tasting room in the background, 2 days before its grand opening in 2012.

My mom Gigi sparkling up the tasting room in the background, 2 days before its grand opening in 2012.

“I couldn’t have done it without her. All of my family was instrumental to my success. Whether it was business advice, money, reality checks, or simply sweeping the floors and taking recycling, they were all there for me, and continue guide me through this.”

A family photo next to the barrels.

A family photo next to the barrels.

To this day, Mike distills every drop himself. He has much needed help in the tasting room and aspects of the production, but clings to the belief that distilling spirits is an art form.

Hard work all bottled up.

Hard work all bottled up.

“My spirits are constantly being refined. I don’t ever want to make the exact same spirit twice. I want to make every batch better than the last. That’s why we put a batch number on every bottle. Every spirit has an extremely complex composition. Minor changes in single aspect of the production can have a significant affect on the final character. It can always be better. The composition can always be more harmonious. I have a ton to learn, but I take pride in everything that has come out of here. It’s my hope that my spirits speak for themselves.”  

After waiting two years for the first batch of whiskey, its sure a proud moment to see it in bottles.

After waiting two years for the first batch of whiskey, its sure a proud moment to see it in bottles.

Whiskey smiles.

Whiskey smiles.