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It's certainly very spirited! DOALG review of Distilled.

Hello everybody, and a welcome back from our Easter break, apologies we went radio silent on you there for a minute, but we all needed a short break to recharge so we can get back to it ready and raring to go. With that in mind, let's review Distilled!

The Distilled game box. It features a cartoon image of a well-dressed lady tasting an alcoholic beverage in a distillery

Distilled Summary

Players: 1-5

Ages: 14+

Game Time: 30 minutes per player

Distilled is a game about distilling spirits by Paverson Games (

for 1-5 players. Taking on the challenge of brewing aged and non-aged spirits, players will buy and manage resources from the market before distilling spirits and seeking to be the prize-winning top distiller with the most esteem. The more complex the spirit, either by recipe or flavour, the more points it will earn. Will you be the best distiller?

Distilled Gameplay

A game of Distilled is played over seven rounds with a mixture of simultaneous and turn-order play. You compete as distillers from around the world, looking to gain the most esteem for your distillery by gaining the most Spirit Points (SP) over the course of the game.

Each round is made up of several phases:

Start of round - Complete start of rounds abilities from cards, indicated by the green standby button. While this can mostly be done simultaneously, there are some abilities that you may need to do in turn order, where they interact with the market for example.

Market - Take it in turns to purchase cards from the market. This can either be basic cards from the supply, or from the main market of premium items (limit of two per round for basic cards). At the end of this phase, the card nearest the truck (discard piles) will get discarded and the market advanced to progress new cards into the market for future rounds. You can also buy recipe cubes.

Distil - This is where you make a spirit by combining ingredients in the washback. You must include at least one yeast, water and sugar card. Depending on how many sugars or modifiers from premium cards, you add alcohol cards to your mixture. Then, shuffling these cards together, you will remove the top and bottom of the stack, mimicking the distilling process in real life in which you remove the potentially harmful foreshot and head of the brew. Review the remaining cards and compare against the recipes to see which spirit you have made, and claim a label for it accordingly. At this point is will be barrelled ready to either age or sell.

Sell Phase - Add a bottle and sell. Take turns to sell sprits one at a time. Assuming you have appropriately aged your spirit already, you may sell it in this phase. Total the money from your spirit itself and the ingredients in the spirit, flavour and other components by checking the currency symbol in the top left of the cards. If you are able to claim a label, then choose an appropriate label reward from the top of your distillery board. Also, make sure to earn Spirit Points based on the recipe, ingredients, bottle or barrel, and if it's an aged spirit the flavour bonus.

Age Spirits - If you haven't sold your spirit, and it requires aging you may instead move the spirit to your warehouse where you get to add a flavour card to the spirit. IF you have a spirit already ageing in your warehouse you can continue to age it further and add new flavour cards. Unless otherwise stated on cards, these flavours added are unknown until you decide to sell the spirit to represent the different ways the spirit matures that remain unknown until you open the barrel. Aged spirits earn a premium when sold, as the more flavour cards it has earn progressively more points; so, these aged sprits can make worthy investments.

Clean-up - Checking awards and rotating first player and the opportunity to get extra money by sacrificing points by conducting tastings. All simple things to get you ready for the next round.

After the end of the seventh round, the game is over, you tally up your end-game points. These are gained by checking the contents of your warehouse for spirits aging but not yet sold, your bottle collection, your unique distillery goals, the value of the distillery upgrades installed by the end of the game and cashing in on your remaining money. Typical euro game stuff really, with a variety of ways to earn points meaning that you can play the game in so many different ways.

A great indication of thorough playtesting and understanding of game balance.

This came out especially in one of our playthroughs where one player focussed solely on maximising flavour and banking on aged spirits to win the day, while another focused on quick wins and trading in the money and steady gains over the course of the game, despite these very different strategies the score was incredibly close with a single decision being the deciding factor in a 2-point loss overall. I love that this depth of gameplay is rewarded where multiple strategies can work equally without it being a foregone conclusion that if one player gets a certain components or character they will win. A great indication of thorough playtesting and understanding of game balance.

Solo Play

Quick note from our Word-Nerd who tried out the solo-play version of the game...

Overall, I really enjoyed the solo version of Distilled. It felt in the spirit (haha) of the multiplayer version, and it was refreshing that it was not just play as more than one player or against an AI, as many solo versions of games often are. Instead, in seven rounds you work to complete a “path” of goal cards, working from the bottom of the barrel up to the top, completing at least one card from each row (five rows in total).  

The barrel is formed of A, B and C goal cards laid out in a prescribed barrel-shaped grid, starting with most of the C cards laid face down, revealed only when you achieve a goal beneath them. To win, you have to exceed the combined target score shown on the A and B goals you have completed. The A goals (a choice of two) determine the overall goal to work towards, and as you complete B and C goals they also grant rewards to assist you.

Solo play goal cards and Solo Goal Swap Card.

As the Rules Lawyer was out to play and it was down to me to read and understood the rules by myself, the first playthrough I completely messed up after looking at the wrong illustration and thinking that you had to start from the top and work your way down. Leading to it (understandably) feeling impossible to complete. I get why Paverson Games designed it this way, creating the feeling that you are filling up your barrel, but the next time I play solo I would be tempted for my own sanity to flip the barrel round to work from top to bottom.

After messing up, I laughed it off, read the rules properly and then tried again. This time, I had a far less head-scratchy and much more enjoyable experience that felt the right level of challenging.

With nobody but myself to keep me in check, I did have to keep reminding myself to do the market cleanup (which cleverly uses the reverse side of B goal cards showing Xs in a grid to represent which cards to remove to mimic other players taking form the market), and I kept being in danger of losing track of what round I was on, but that's more of a me problem than an issue with the game, particularly as this was my first experience of playing a big box game solo.

It is great that there is solo goal swap card (at the cost of needing to score five extra points to win), which lets you swap out any two solo cards with the same row, as this means that if the combination of goal card is a little too tricky then there is a way out rather than feeling despondent and just giving up.

Overall, if you like your engine builder games and enjoy a solo gaming experience it's definitely worth giving it a taste!

Distilled Production

The production is generally very good with a high-quality card stock used for all the cards and punchboards, with clever storage designed into the box with inserts designed to hold your key tokens easily with room in mind for future expansions.

A nice touch was the leaflet included showing how to optimally use the box to store everything, neatly making set-up and tear-down time a breeze.

My only complaint regarding this storage, however. is that its heavily reliant on plastic for holders and token trays where from an environmental standpoint I'd have preferred a more ecologically friendly solution.

Design-wise there are a few little niggles that detract from the overall experience for me such as your player colour being obscured on your distillery board once you start playing the game, as the only indicators are in the warehouse and distiller identity sections of the board, and both of these fill up quickly.

Equally, there was some confusion for quite a while regarding the currency icon in the game being a silver/grey colour which initially makes you think you take that many silver coins, instead of only taking the corresponding number of coin value in total. This led to us having a null initial testing game where we threw the economics of the game for a loop by having massively inflated amounts of money available.

These are small niggles but overall, a great run out here. Especially when it comes to the art and theming of the game, where everything feels on point and really helps build your immersion.

A final note too that I like the inclusion of the educational sections of the rules where it tells you more about the spirits and the process in general.

Distilled Conclusion

​So, let's break it down for you in our key areas:

  • Replayability - With eight different flights of recipes and multiple character combinations, each you will be playing this game for a long time before finding the edges.

  • Production Value - Very well thought-out and good standard of tokens and cards throughout.

  • Theme - As a whisky lover i do really enjoy the theme, and you feel it all the way through its core DNA and the lovely finish.

  • Complexity - There are several layers of strategies and options, as with any points salad Euro game, but the overall gameplay runs very smoothly once you get started.

  • Rules - While the rules are technically precise, they could do with expanding a little in sections with repetition of key information to make certain things clearer. However, their official FAQ document ( does resolve all the issues we encountered. For first timers there is a step-by-step guide too, which is always nice.

  • Uniqueness - The distilling and washback mechanics are really great not only a thematic nod to the distillation process but also creating a gameplay mechanic I've not experienced before.

  • Value - It's a big box game with a big box price tag and while I'm sure some mainstream producers could have taken a hit on the margin it's quite reasonable overall.

A die face showing five pips with the DOLAG imp "Ink"

I loved Distilled! It's a great game and I would highly recommend IT for those who are into their tabletop gaming. It might be a little heavy for casual play, but overall it is an enjoyable experience. There are a few niggles here and there though that stop it achieving that mighty six rating, so a five for me.

The DOALG rules Lawyer

Goerge E Ohh

A die face showing five pips with the DOLAG imp "Ink"

I thoroughly enjoyed Distilled! It's clever mechanics and theme made a great impact, and certainly with our group of "Friday evening gamers" we enjoyed it, but I tend to agree with our Rules Lawyer that the rulebook could be fine-tuned (hence no 6 score). Fix this rulebook and you'll have nailed it. Love the artwork and quality! God job @Paverson Games! We look forward to the expansion.

The DOALG Founder

Mr Chris


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