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Issue 125 - In Washington, W is for Whiskey

Whisky Magazine Issue 125
January 2015


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In Washington, W is for Whiskey

When Craft Distilleries Come of Age

Washington State ignited a path for the meteoric rise of craft distillers in the United States, when they granted a craft distillery license to Dry Fly Distillers in Spokane on 1 July 2008. Within an hour they had sold two bottles from their store front – the first liquor to be sold at a non-state retail store since Prohibition. Within a year five more craft distillers received their licenses, with a dozen more applications pending. Today Washington accounts for almost 25 per cent of all distilleries in the U. S.

So what's the secret? According to Keith Barnes, Proprietor/Distiller for the Bainbridge Island Organic Distillers, it was a perfect storm. A perfect storm of resources, weather, climate, talent and clientele. “This is a phenomenal state for raw materials. Everything from grains to fruit, berries to honey,” said Barnes, from his storefront, office, distillery. “And we enjoy a very unique customer base – with a sophisticated palate for high-end coffees, craft beers, and wines that rival anything produced in California – or in Europe for that matter. It's almost as though the market was evolving a customer base with high quality hand-crafted product in mind.”

But of all the vodkas, gins and aquavits, the brandies, apple cordials, grappa and even absinthe that are rocking the gourmet liquor trade in Washington, whiskey reigns supreme.

The discriminating epicure can find genuine bourbons, ryes – even single malts – that are hand-crafted in stat...

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