story: Theresa Campbell /// photography: fred lopez
Florida Farm Distillers’ Palm Ridge Reserve has been generating raves from worldwide visitors—and high praise from whiskey writer Jim Murray—for the micro-distillery’s distinctive, award-winning 90 proof, young Florida Bourbon-style whiskey.
Owners Dick and Marti Waters operate their business (licensed in 2008) in a barn on a small cattle farm west of Umatilla at 23100 SE Highway 42.
“We’re a very small outfit and a very small producer, and to get recognized the way we are is amazing,” says Dick, noting the distillery creates 500 cases per year.
Palm Ridge Reserve doesn’t have regular business hours, but the couple opens their barn twice a month for an open house and tours.
“We have had people here from Germany, Denmark, and Taiwan,” says Dick. “We sometimes look at ourselves and say, ‘How did this happen?’”
Their growing fan base happened by word-of-mouth praise and from the distillery winning numerous awards from side-by-side comparisons to established premium brands. Among their awards: a gold medal at the Spirits of the Americas awards, and silver medals from the American Craft Distillers Association and the Washington Cup competition.
The pair produces three varieties of whiskey: Palm Ridge Reserve, the Rye, and the Virgin, a white, pure version.
The Palm Ridge Reserve received 97.5 points score on the esteemed “Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible,” 2015 edition. The author wrote: “This beautifully crafted, truly adorable whiskey where fruit appears to constantly have its hand on the tiller. And rather than blast in like a hurricane from the sea, it breezes gently around the glass and palate with easy elegance.”
Murray also rated Palm Ridge Reserve with 10 sweet words: “Superstar whiskies that give us all a reason to live.”
To learn more about the monthly open houses, go to the “events section” of the company’s website, PalmRidgeReserve.com.