They’re calling it the farm-to-bottle, `boutique booze’ movement. Connoisseurs of quality alcohol are looking away from main-market vodkas, gins, rums and whiskies staring eye-level at them from grocery store shelves, and connecting to the artisanal spirit of booze-making that is all the rage in America.
Leading this coming-of-age moment in the lives of micro distilleries is the state of Washington, with more than a fifth of the country’s total tally of new and up-coming, farm-fresh spirit-making facilities, with Seattle at it’s epicenter.
Visit the Eastside from Seattle, and you can do a tour of some of the best micro distilleries in the city, learn about artisanal spirit-making, shop, and do sample tastings of some significantly better booze:
MICRO DISTILLERIES IN EASTSIDE, SEATTLE
#1: WILDWOOD SPIRITS CO
Renowned Seattle restaurateur and chef John Howie partners with Sommelier Erik Liedholm at Wildwood to produce Stark Vatten vodka and Kur gin – Wildwood’s signature spirits that have won multiple competitions since late 2014, including top honors from the New York World Wine and Spirits Competition and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the two most recognized competitions in the spirits industry. Stepping into Wildwood’s tasting room is like stepping back in time, to a quaint, 18th Century British apothecary that serves half-ounce tastes of Kur gin and Stark Vatten vodka `cures’ in a convivial and cozy, ceramic-tiled dispensary. And while you’re there, don’t forget to get an early tasting of Wildwood’s soon-to-be-released Dark Door. The wheated bourbon is slated for unveiling in February next year, but if you know to ask, Wildwood will probably let you sample it right now…
• Hours: Wed-Sun, 2-7 pm, or by appointment
Address: 19116 Beardslee Blvd. Suite # 102; Bothell, WA 98011
#2: FOUR LEAF SPIRITS
Your next stop on the `Micro Distilleries In Eastside’ tour is Four Leaf, a wine making, beer brewing and spirits distilling destination. Go there to taste a selection of tea-infused spirits and rums like the Sásta, Tine and Liath, served up in customized herb-inspired cocktails, like the alcoholic Earl Grey concoction or the classic Martini with a local, apple-y twist.
•Hours: Sat-Sun, 12-4 pm, or by appointment
Address: 12280 NE Woodinville Dr. Suite C, Woodinville, WA 98072
Phone: (425) 320-4170
#3: SCHNAPSLEICHE CRAFT SPIRITS
Schnapsleiche is located in a complex containing several wineries, a brewery, and a cidery — all with their own tasting rooms. Go there to experience a variety of handcrafted spirits including European-style schnaps, gin, akvavit, geist and vodkas. There are also bourbon, rye whiskey, and brandies being made, but as traditional crafting takes many years, these are not available for sale or tastings just yet.
•Hours: Sat 1-6 pm, or by appointment
Address: 19151 144th Ave NE; Space H; Woodinville, WA 98072
#4: BROVO SPIRITS
Brovo Spirits prides itself as a distillery that recipes its spirits for the middle class. Directions come not from experts, but the grassroots people who really understand alcohol best – the bartenders. Locally sourced ingredients and a no-nonsense approach to creating worthy, hearty amaros, liqueurs and vermouths within the mid-price range that speak of terroir (soil) and native attributes of homegrown ingredients.
•Hours: Tasting by appointment only
Address: 18808 142nd Ave NE • Unit 3B; Woodinville, WA 98072
#5: PACIFIC DISTILLERY
Years of accumulated knowledge from running a herb business is put to good use at the family-owned Pacific Distillery, where handmade spirits are produced with old-world methods, recipes and equipment. Botanical samplings from around the world are combined with ingredients from their own garden to create Pacifique, a traditional 19th Century absinthe, and Voyager, a single-batch distilled gin that the distillery is justifiably proud of. Try them in Pacific’s unique renditions of a selection of classic cocktails.
•Hours: Sat, 12–5pm; Sun 12–4pm
Address: 18808 142nd Ave NE • #4B, Woodinville, WA 98072
#6: J.P. TRODDEN
Owner and distiller Mark Nesheim starts each small batch of J.P. Trodden by grinding the corn and winter wheat sourced locally from Washington state. Since bourbon is a uniquely American spirit, the distillery takes pride in using only American made equipment, including a copper still from Oregon, new oak barrels, and Tennessee glass bottles.
•Hours: Sat 12–5 pm; Mon–Fri, by appointment
Address: 18646 142nd Ave NE; Woodinville, WA 98072
#7: SEASPIRITS DISTILLERY
At Seaspirits, they start with high quality ingredients, apply a little art, a little science, and end up with some of the finest distilled silver, spiced, barrel-aged and coconut rums that make anything else taste like “mass-produced swill”. Their spirits appear lighter in color because all alcohol comes off the still clear and then changes color because of added ingredients or barrel aging. They don’t add any artificial colors or sweeteners to their products.
•Hours: Fri–Sun, 12-5 pm
Address: 16110 Woodinville-Redmond Rd NE; Suite # 3; Woodinville WA 98072
#8: GRAPEWORKS DISTILLING
Others make spirits from grapes, but at Grapeworks, they make singular varietal grape vodkas and brandies. And `Grape Spirit’? Apparently this one is so unique that they had to get special permission from the Feds to make it, let alone use the name. Grapeworks’ grape spirit is neither a vodka nor a brandy. It is an interesting spirit with high character, distinct aromas and flavors that can be enjoyed alone or mixed with cocktails.
•Hours: Sat and Sun 12-5 pm
Address: 14701 148th Avenue NE; Woodinville, WA 98072
#9: WOODINVILLE WHISKEY COMPANY
Your last stop in the `micro distilleries in Eastside’ tour. Pure water from the Cascade mountains, grains grown exclusively at the Omlin third-generation, family-owned farm, and an ideal aging environment in Woodinville are some of the magic ingredients go in the crafting of their straight bourbon, straight American and straight rye whiskies.
•Hours: Open Daily, 11am–5pm
Address: 14509 Woodinville-Redmond Rd NE; Woodinville, WA 98072