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West End Ciderworks and Distillery located at 237 West State Street in Athens, Ohio.

West End Ciderworks and Distillery’s Tasting Room to have grand opening this weekend

West End Ciderworks and Distillery will have its grand opening Nov. 16 starting at 1 p.m.

West End Ciderworks and Distillery is a sister company of West End Ciderhouse. The distillery acts as a production facility for the Ciderhouse, as well as a tasting room and retail space. The space at 237 W. State St. was opened because the company needed to expand its production space, but it also provides greater visibility for the company.

“The location also has a tasting room, which basically people can come in, sample our ciders and have a pint or two of hard cider and sample the different spirits that we have available that we produce in house, and purchase bottles for off-premise consumption of all of our spirits,” Kelly Sauber, one of the proprietors of West End Ciderworks and Distillery, said.

In addition to being a tasting room, distillery and liquor store, West End Ciderworks and Distillery also acts as an event space, holding roughly 40 to 50 people.

The distillery produces and carries three lines: Athens West End Distillery, which is craft distilled and bottled from southeastern Ohio grown grapes, apples, corn, among other items; Eleven Square, which is craft blended using Missouri-grown, non-GMO corn spirits; and Fifth Element Spirits, which is crafted from locally grown and foraged delicacies and include pawpaw brandy, elderberry brandy and sorghum rum.

Presently, West End Cider Works and Distillery has Athens West End Spicebush Gin and Grape based Vodka, Fifth Element Spirits Vodka, Gin, Coffee Liqueur and bourbon and Eleven Square Grain based Vodka currently available.

Due to the distillery’s recent move from Meigs County, the current selection available is smaller than usual.

“Our selection is not as great as it has been, and as it will be again,” Sauber said.

The distillery prides itself on its goal of locally sourced ingredients for its products.

“Our ciders are made from all Ohio grown apples,” Nick Capanna, the head of sales for Ciderworks and the distillery, said. “We work with three farms primarily on right now we're working mostly Hugus farms and Hidden Hills Orchards.”

Not only does the distillery source its apples from in-state, but the rest of its ingredients are from Ohio as well.

“Our whole philosophy with the cider is very similar to our philosophy with the distillery and that is, we try to make sure that we use all 100% local ingredients as much as possible,” Sauber said. “And then when we can't find what we need local, we might find it, you know, another 60, or 80 or 100 or 150 miles.”

There are a lot of ciders on the marketplace that are comfortable with using extract or concentrate from imported apples, Sauber said, but West End Ciderworks and Distillery uses fresh pressed apples that go directly into the fermentation process. 

“You really find a much fresher character cider where you can really taste the apples,” Sauber said. “There's just nothing like a fresh pressed hard cider.”

For Capanna, West End Cinderworks and Distillery is a special favorite for a self proclaimed “big apple guy.”

“Kelly makes some of the freshest, purest ciders I've ever tasted because he only kegs and doesn't bottle,” Capanna said. “He doesn't need to put any sulfites or preservatives in any of the cider.”

Due to its production methods, the distillery offers a range of types of ciders.

“You get this really like, clear, crisp, almost crystal the cider, that's just super refreshing,” Capanna said. “And … depending on what sort of fruits and apples we sweeten it with, it can either be very dry. Like, a dry champagne can be pretty sweet and almost kind of juicy in the mouth.”

The location of the distillery is important to note, Sauber said.

“We have a West State street address, we just have no access to State Street,” Sauber said. “So our access is off of Shaffer street directly across from Cider house.”

Some students are excited about the prospects of the expansion of a local distillery with locally sourced ingredients. Anthony Cruz, a senior studying math and psychology, thinks that the new distillery is cool, and imagines that the sourcing of local products is helpful to the community.


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