As we close in on Thanksgiving, there’s a wide array of fun, traditional holiday libations popping up around the Columbus food and drink scene. While we wholly appreciate these and the holiday spirit they help impart here at (614), it’s always exciting when something just a little bit different—and something unapologetically Ohio—comes our way.
And that thing is none other than the 2020 release of Watershed Distillery’s award-winning Nocino. The spirit, Watershed’s rendition on the traditional Italian liqueur of the same name, is made from unripe black Ohio walnuts, sugar, and spices. Only walnuts at a certain point in their development are suitable for use in Nocino, allowing a small window of time that they can be harvested for the drink.
Nocino balances sweetness with a full nuttiness, and features aromas of dark chocolate, dark fruit, and clove, with tasting notes of candied citrus peels and baking spices. The finish packs more orange peel and warm hints of vanilla bean.
While the Columbus distillery normally releases the spirit with more fanfare—it’s usually accompanied by a daylong celebration known as Nocinofest—the pandemic has rendered large public gatherings unsafe.
Instead, this year patrons can simply pull through Watershed’s drive-up bottle shop (located at the distillery) from Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., starting now. No reservations or pre-ordering is required.
Dec. 4-5 will serve as this year’s version of Nocinofest as well, and while there won’t be any in-person activities, Watershed is releasing an additional speciality offering that weekend: Watershed Bourbon finished in Nocino barrels.
“This bourbon release is special,” said CEO of Watershed Distillery Greg Lehman. “Not only is it one of the most mature bourbons we’ve ever bottled, but the barrel we’ve aged it in adds such a distinct flavor. It is the perfect way to celebrate 10 years of making spirits in Columbus.”
According to Watershed Distillery, the bourbon contains flavors of vanilla, toasted oak, and warm spice from the time in barrels holding Nocino.
Since these bottles are being released in limited quantities, customers must be selected via a lottery system before purchasing.
The lottery system opens at 8 a.m. on Nov. 16 and closes at 8 a.m. on Nov. 30. Only one entry is allowed per person, and if selected, entrants must be able to pick up their bottles between 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 4 or 5.
Check out Watershed Distillery’s website for more lottery details, and good luck..