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  • via Sound Spirits
At 1630 15th Avenue West, in a modest concrete building decorated with writhing tentacles, Sound Spirits has been quietly brewing craft batches of barley vodka for the last month. This marks Seattle's first distillery since Prohibition. And tomorrow, Steven Stone—the man behind the spirits—will officially throw open his doors to the public.

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Sound Spirits hours of operation are still being hammered out, says Stone (he's a Boeing engineer by day and a distiller by night) but generally the distillery is open from 6:00 p.m. "until late" on weekdays and all day on weekends. "We've already had people coming in to taste our vodka and buy a bottle," says Stone. "There's a lot of curiosity and excitement around having a distillery in town."

With good reason—not only is Stone allowed to offer customers four free half-ounce samples in his tasting room of his vodka—Ebb + Flow, a smooth and slightly sweet vodka distilled from Washington barley—his distillery is the only place in Seattle outside of a state-run liquor store where you can legally buy booze (limited to two bottles per person, per day).

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Each bottle costs $31 and holds the makings for "about 20 damn fine drinks," according to the label, which is decorated with blue tides and one silvery tentacle, Stone's way of honoring Puget Sound and the giant Pacific octopus that lives in it.


Barley is a fairly unusual base for vodka—most common are potato and wheat. "I knew I was going to be using barley for whiskey," says Stone, "so I thought why not a single-malt vodka?" Now he's producing 500 bottles a month, with plans to come out with gin by Christmas* and start distilling whiskey next spring.

Stone's not the only one with ambitious plans—he says that at least five other people in town are working on opening up distilleries, and that booze enthusiasts should expect Washington wine-based vodkas coming soon. "We'd like to eventually have a whole distillery row and really make an industry of it in Seattle like the breweries and wineries have done," he says, raising a half-ounce toast to a great idea.

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And then we drink.

*I sampled his gin. "We don't use artificial flavors," Stone says of the as-yet-unnamed gin, "just natural botanicals." I am not usually a gin drinker but drinking this gin was like getting tongued by a pine tree and hot damn! I love nature!