Trust us to go all the way to Cape Cod and end up in a distillery. To be fair, we did do the whole lobster roll, beach, minigolf, ice cream, and sunset thing too (scroll down), but we cleared an afternoon for South Hollow Spirits. Owned by the Roberts family, who also run the adjoining Truro Vineyards, South Hollow Spirits is the first legal distillery on Cape Cod since prohibition. In a beautiful set of buildings in North Truro, they distill a range of rums and gin using local ingredients and a 250 gallon copper pot and column still crafted by Vendome.
Head distiller Dave Roberts Jr kindly showed us around, taking us through the process for their exceptional Dry Line Cape Cod Gin. 100% sugar cane juice is fermented for three weeks, and distilled before any botanicals are added. It is then steeped for two days in steel drums with botanicals, then redistilled having been infused. The key ingredient is Eastern rRd Cedar juniper, conveniently found just outside, and it’s backed up by orange, lemon, cardamom, allspice, coriander, orris, grains of paradise, anise and dried cranberry. There’s also local angelica root, grown using composted grape skins from Truro Vineyards. Aromas of juniper, citrus and coriander dominate, and there’s plenty of spice and citrus on the finish. The 47% gin is named after their Eastern Red Cedar trees which grow east of the 100th Meridian, often locally called the “dry line”.
South Hollow Spirits currently produce three rums, Amber, Spiced and White, all under the name of “Twenty Boats” inspired by tales of 1930s rum smugglers. Having been arrested in Boston, rum runner William Sovell posted bail, reclaimed his boat, and made for Cape Cod pursued by twenty federal boats. He sped into Provincetown, abandoned his boat, and was apparently never found.
Their Amber and Spiced expressions are made from organic molasses and sugar cane juice which are fermented together and twice distilled. The 47.5% Spiced Rum is steeped after the first distillation with a hemp bag packed with cardamom, vanilla bean, cinnamon, rose hip, anise, lemon peel and orange peel, allspice, nutmeg and chai. A floral aroma with hints of vanilla and orange leads to cardamom, cinnamon and chai in the mouth, and more chai and anise on the finish. Meanwhile, the 42.5% Amber Rum is aged and subsequently blended from once-used chardonnay-toasted Hungarian oak and once-used burnt American whisky oak. Vanilla is again present on the nose, alongside nuts and caramel, giving way to butterscotch, tobacco and molasses. The simpler White Rum was released since our visit, made just with 100% organic sugarcane in the French Caribbean tradition. It is no doubt great for making cocktails!
Speaking of which, we settled down in their wonderful green garden for drinks with Co-Owner & CFO Kristen Roberston. The rums were put through their paces in various tropical punches, whilst the Dry Line gin excelled in refreshing slushies and G&Ts, all dispatched from The Hollow bar on the lawn. Anyone can come down for spirit tastings, tours, wines by the glass, and cocktails – just check ahead for opening times. There’s also cornhole to keep you busy, and superior street food from the Crush Pad food truck, run by highly-rated local Blackfish restaurant. Basically everything you need, all in one place. If the weather’s on your side, you’ll never leave.
If you do manage to tear yourself away, you won’t be far from Head of the Meadow, a laid back beach with unspoiled dunes, plus potentially seals, sharks and shipwrecks! Depending on the tide, you might be able to spot the Frances, a German boat that ran aground in December 1872. The crew was saved but Captain Wilhelm Kortling died a few days later. Nearby too is the Highland Lighthouse. It was originally built in 1797, 500ft from the the cliffs. By 1990, erosion meant that it was only 100ft from the edge. It was moved 450ft back and relit in 1996.
Lobster rolls are inevitable, and the options are plentiful. We can vouch for the offering at the picturesque, secluded Sesuit Harbor Café, but you might also want to seek out Liam’s at Nauset Beach, or Mac’s On The Pier in Wellfleet. The iconic Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar comes with the added bonus of great ice cream and minigolf. We got so distracted there that we forgot that we were due in Boston that evening for a Red Sox game, and missed the first three innings! Let’s be honest though, minigolf is the more exciting sport.
For dinner, have a look at Blackfish, Terra Luna, ABBA or funky BYOB Cap’t Cass Rock Harbor outside Orleans. The latter is also a fine spot for sunset, though we opted for the peaceful Boat Meadow slightly further north in Eastham. Provincetown crowds gravitate towards Herring Cove Beach for sunset vistas. After dark, you should probably check out Cape Cod institution The Beachcomber, party the night away in Provincetown, or catch something at the Wellfleet Drive In. Craft beer fans might want to swing by Devil’s Purse Brewing – though check ahead for opening times. We eventually settled down with drinks and smores by our campfire at the charming and affordable Inn At The Oaks.
Cape Cod & South Hollow Spirits are best explored with a car, or a boat for that matter! It’s a five hour drive or so (on a good day) from New York, and less than two hours from Boston. Route 6 through the Cape can get very clogged up choose your arrival and departure times wisely! If you have more time to play with, take a day or two to look around the small islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, and don’t forget to play the Jaws theme on repeat all holiday.
South Hollow Spirits – southhollowspirits.com
11 Shore Road, North Truro, MA 02652
Matt The Tips – Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you are planning a trip to Cape Cod and have any questions, or want some more ideas. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org