Like craft beer a decade and a half ago, San Diego County is making a name for itself as the home to high-quality local distilleries. I’ve been reaching out (and sampling) spirits-producing North County businesses to learn more.
This week I touched base with Dieter Steinmetz, founder and master distiller at Oceanside Distillers, which was established in 2017. Dieter, alongside distiller Sean Hallman, produces two brands — family-run Steinmetz and veteran-owned Shadow Ridge (SR) Spirits Company — under the Oceanside Distillers banner.
Steinmetz has a distinctive family crest on the label making it easy to pick out on the shelf, and the distillery seems to have a passion for fine spirits, classic cars and Oceanside.
Cheers! For someone who isn’t familiar with the Steinmetz brand, which has a vintage feel both in cars and in branding, what is the story behind the name, and will you explain the theme or vibe?
Dieter: Steinmetz products have the Steinmetz name and crest on the bottles, except for Day of the Dead Rum. The labels are designed to have a classical look. The crest represents our Steinmetz family history.
The eagle represents America, the lion represents my ancestry of South Africa, the crossbow represents my wife’s ancestry of Switzerland, the hammer represents a stonemason (“Steinmetz” is German for stonemason) with a modern helmet.
We currently have four products available: Steinmetz Sipping Bourbon, Steinmetz Rye Whiskey, Steinmetz Day of the Dead Rum and Steinmetz Truffled Gin.
Cheers! The Sipping Bourbon and now the Rye Whiskey have big gold stickers indicating a gold medal at spirits competitions. What were the awards for and what does medaling mean to your company?
Dieter: Steinmetz Sipping Bourbon was my first product in 2020. It won Gold in the San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge.
In 2021, it won Double Gold in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Steinmetz Rye Whiskey was my second product in 2021. It won Gold in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Steinmetz Day of the Dead Rum was my third product released in 2021 but has not been entered into any competitions. Steinmetz Truffled Gin is my latest creation and will be available shortly.
Entering competitions allows you to compare your products to many similar brands and thus provides validation for the quality and exceptional taste of your product. The San Francisco World Spirits Competition is the premier competition currently. It had over 3,800 entrants in 2021.
Cheers! What is the distillery working on today?
Dieter: We are restoring a ’59 El Camino that will be used to transport the grains used by the distillery. We enjoy sharing its progress on Instagram @oceanside.distillers or via oceansidedistillers.com.
Cheers! What is the best way for North County residents to get their hands on some of your spirits?
Dieter: Our products are available at the Oceanside distillery, Keg n Bottle liquor stores, kegnbottle.com and oceansidedistillers.com. We are available for tastings by appointment only. Please contact us via email: [email protected] or phone: 760-453-0499.
All over San Diego’s North County, craft spirits lovers have been enjoying the uptick in local distilleries providing our communities with fine spirits. Be sure to check out last week’s interview with Justin McCabe, head distiller at 117° West in Vista, and stay tuned for next week’s interview with Nicholas Hammond of Pacific Coast Spirits.