Being Choosy and Getting Boozy

What You Don't Know About Your Favorite Liquor Brands—and Which Local Liquors to Buy Instead


I was at the grand opening for the gin from Bainbridge Organic Distillery - tasty stuff. Now I hope all of these local "forced aging" whiskeys result in at least one worthy sipper (but I'm willing to try the clear as a completely different experience, I guess...)

"Conscience buying" is tough when you really like something made by a creep.
i think you need to list the names and addresses where we can go to try and buy these lovely products
Would love to see some pricing info. Supporting the locals is great, but there's a price point where it becomes untenable.
Try Mishchief in Fremont:
organic grains, locally distilled handcrafted vodka, whisky, gin. Worth a visit just to see their beautiful still. 132 N Canal St
Try Mishchief in Fremont:
organic grains, locally distilled handcrafted vodka, whisky, gin. Worth a visit just to see their beautiful still. 132 N Canal St
I got a bottle of Gimbal Gin from Westland Distillery (in Seattle) and it was awful. I couldn't even finish the one drink I made; I threw the rest of the bottle out. I have never tasted a local alcohol (including micro brews) that I have liked as much as a major brand. Though I am open to keep trying them.
Screw mischief their whiskey in made in Canada.
So, could you list more than a handful of them?
Very cool -thanks for doing this, Brendan!
I wish someone would write up a similar article for us in Arizona. Every time I go to the liquor store I wonder which brands have been opposing drug law reform. Unfortunately they don't put that on the labels.
Where can I buy an 8 gallon oak barrel of booze?
The Sound Spirit, Ebb and Flow Gin is interesting, has a anise floral finish, great with fresh squeezed Grapefruit juice.
Fascinating! Now we are supposed to politicize our single-malts, ryes, blends, etc...because why, again? Oh yes, it is your fault if you were sold, re-sold, and subsequently acquired and re-acquired.

For example, we all know Laphroaig is the most politically disagreeable distiller the planet has ever known; the fact that they are of Scotland should give anyone pause. Indeed, why should we support a distillery that is in its second century of existence when we can swill local vodka mere weeks old?

Now, I am in fact a champion of many of our local alcohols, but to boycott such a fine rye as Old Overholt in the age of massive conglomerating holding companies is nothing more than guilt by association.

Please let us all know how one can divorce one-self entirely from the presumed ills of society (in the case of single-malts, civilization itself) to the extent that one’s spent grain does not stink?

As an aside, the Canadian Club I would not suggest even for cleaning your bong.

As to Canada, if you're of a bit of a smuggling could try sneaking back a couple bottles of "Havana Club" rum the next time you go to Vancouver or Victoria for the weekend.

It's made in Cuba(you'd be breaking the pointless U.S. blockade)using the original Bacardi recipe(that family were Cuban fascist aristos before they bugged out to Puerto Rico). From what I''ve heard, it's amazing stuff, and it's a fun way to "stick it to the man" with your next "Cuba Libre".

Just a thought.

How about a Warm Fuzzy: Bailey's Irish Cream and hot chocolate with a candy cane! Cheers!
Yeah a few notes. First, the Craft Distilling license (the 51% WA ingredients) was sponsored by the local congressman in Dry Fly's district and the license bears a striking similarity to their business model. It even was amended to allow larger annual production after Dry Fly grew. But several of the small distilleries around, particularly gin and herbal liquor distillers, cannot get the ingredients they want of the quality they need and still meet the craft distillers license requirement. Particularly if they aren't mashing themselves, just re-distilling on herbals (juniper, etc) with grain-neutral spirits. So not all small local distilleries are "Craft Distillers", they're just craft distillers. Just a different license and ingredient sourcing.

Second, as has been mentioned, it takes years to get a whisky distillery up and running. Several of the locals who are bottling whisky are buying on the bulk market and re-bottling, or blending with some of the young whisky they have on hand. Look on the back of the bottle for "Distilled by" vs "Imported/Blended/Bottled by" and so on. Does this mean it isn't good and you shouldn't buy it? Hells no. Support these guys while they're sitting on their barrels, you're still helping a local company get off the ground. But be aware as well, the liquor industry is as much about hype as taste.
I just purchased a bottle of Ebb+Flow vodka yesterday and girl-oh-girl is it tasty!! Thank you local Washington distillers.
If the list goes on and on...then you shoulda made a sidebar column and listed them, rather than leaving us to guess at who the rest might be after the first handful.
Samish Island has a distillery that makes a wonderful single malt whiskey. It isnt peated at the end, so it's alot cleaner finishing than scotch, but has more of that feel than a bourbon. They also have what they call an "immature whiskey" that has notes very much like a good blanco tequila. I toured the place, and they do the whole process all local stuff, in the smaller barrels. The name of the distillery is "Golden northwest" and their mailing address is in Bow, Wa. But they are actually on Samish island. The guy who rund the place used to own Franco's hidden harbor, for historical reference.
Clear Creek Distillery in Portland, Oregon, was the first distillery in the Pacific Northwest. Started in the mid-80s because of the abundance of local fruit, they buy and distill thousands of pounds of pears, apples, cherries, and plums from Oregon and Washington into some AMAZING fruit brandy....and I happen to know that the owner is an old leftie who went to Reed College back in the day. Not to mention, the single malt whiskey they distill is peaty and complex. And yes, I'm biased.
Check out 44 Degrees North from across the border in Idaho. Wonderful flavored vodka.
Brendan, thanks for writing this, great that someone talks about NGS finally.

To agree with an above comment, not all spirits in Washington are made craft. You really think Sun Liquor can mash in that space and use that tiny still without using NGS? That doesn't mean their product is bad, it just doesn't take as much effort to make. Same for Voyager Gin, it uses NGS, but it has great flavor. Also, it would be very difficult to make a quality absinthe without starting with NGS.

I agree that we should buy local whenever possible, but I have a hard time imagining myself ever not purchasing a Pappy Van Winkle or Buffalo Trace Antique Collection because of their parent company. The distillers there still work very hard and create very good products. Inspiration for these local distilleries no doubt comes from these incredible distillers. Heck, Woodinville Whiskey Company works with former Maker's Mark distiller Dave Pickerell.

I see Washington shaping the future of distilling. Woodinville Whiskey Company is an inspiration for quality, as is Dry Fly.

I wish all Washington distillers well in 2012. I will always be a customer.

@SchmuckyTheCat - You can buy barrels of Willet, try there.
@5: "locally distilled handcrafted vodka"

I don't get how they can claim this, I bought a bottle of Mischief vodka and it stated that they didn't distill it locally, it was imported from out of the country.

Hrm, perhaps I bought the whiskey instead.

Fremont mischief is available at the distillery (but not one of the Whiskeys, which is actually distilled in Canada and not eligible for sale in the distillery) and at some WA state liquor stores."