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A San Luis Obispo County building inspector builds his own distillery in Los Osos



Driving down the main road in Los Osos you wouldn't be able to find Foggy Bottom Distillery at first or even know it was there to begin with.

"You really have to want to come here to find this place," said Todd Adams, owner and operator of the distillery.

Foggy Bottom Distillery is tucked away to the side of the building that's home to Hong Kong Chinese and Martin's Mexican restaurants—but if you look close enough, you'll find the sign to its entrance off Los Osos Valley Road.

Adams distills and serves his variety of gin, whiskey, and rum from a storage closet of the building. He set his sights on getting this spot for his distillery while he was doing an inspection of the restaurants.

"I told them they had an odd condition on their permit that required them to dedicate a 100 square feet to a craft distiller," Adams said jokingly.

After a good laugh, he explained his interest in having a distillery and tasting room. Before this opportunity, Adams was having a tough time finding a spot to even start his business.

"I called about 20 people, and as soon as they heard the word 'distillery' they would hang up the phone," he said. "I think the first thing they thought of was a potential distillery fire."

Adams was offered the spare closet that was filled with the restaurant's extra to-go boxes, towels, and other backstock. Adams happily met that offer by saying he'd make the space work.

After eight months of getting the right permits lined up and passing multiple inspections, Adams has 107 square feet plus a small patio area to himself.

This whole idea of distilling his own hard alcohol came from a story he read in New Times three years ago. It was about the wine industry in Paso Robles using its grapes for more than just wine. His friend Joe Barton a co-owner of Krobar Distillery was featured for his use of wine to make gin and rye whiskey.

This was also when the Craft Distillers Act of 2015 passed, which took affect in 2016. The law authorizes the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to issue a distiller's license to a person with the facility and equipment to create distilled alcohol for commercial manufacturing.

With that in mind Adams said Barton gave him a few pointers and told him to do his research. So he picked up Making Pure Corn Whiskey: A Professional Guide For Amateur and Micro Distillers by Ian Smiley—it's a guide on how to create smaller batches of whiskey. After countless hours on the internet and many trials later, he's come up with a fresh take on gin, rum, and whiskey.

"I don't drink hard alcohol at all, so I wanted to make something that was smooth enough for me to enjoy," he said.

Foggy Bottom Distillery is open on Saturdays and Sundays from noon until dark. Stop by enjoy a taste with Adams, and you just might catch him in his leather serving apron, if he remembers to wear it. He said all the fancy distillers have one. To reach out to Adams, visit his Facebook page.

Fast Fact

The Wampum Trading Post is celebrating its grand re-opening and the prospective launch of a new Native American Museum. The shop was once only a merchant of handcrafts and gifts, but this spot will now also be home to a museum displaying authentic indigenous artifacts by tribes from across the continent. While the museum is currently under construction, the trading post is now open for business with a hundreds of books, collector's artifacts, Baja sweaters, blankets, and rugs. Visit the Wampum Trading Post at 9190 Castillo Drive, San Simeon. Δ

Staff Writer Karen Garcia wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tidbits to

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