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John Howie's Wildwood Spirits Co. To Open Next Month

It's Bothell's first craft distillery.

Wildwood Spirits Co
Wildwood Spirits Co
Courtesy of Wildwood Spirits Co

Bothell, you just keep getting luckier. Only two months after opening Beardslee Public House, chef John Howie is expanding yet further on the east side with his upcoming Wildwood Spirits Co., Bothell's first craft distillery.

Wildwood Spirits Co. aims to blend "farm to table" and "vineyard to bottle" to create distillates in a distinctive "farm to distillery" fashion. Ninety percent of the produce used for distilling Wildwood Spirits Co. spirits (from winter wheat to Braeburn apples to Douglas fir) is grown in Washington State.

Wildwood co-owner Erik Liedholm is both a certified distiller from the London-based Institute of Brewing and Distilling and an Advanced Level III Sommelier and, as John Howie Restaurant Group's wine director, he was the 2014 winner of the National Somm Slam competition at the International Chef Congress in New York.

In terms of  Wildwood, Liedholm says, "We are not trying to reinvent the wheel... just make it better. We strive to create spirits that are delicious on their own but also make your cocktail taste even better. We want to be your "go-to" spirit." Mike Taib, who has been with the pair at John Howie Steak since 2012, is Vice Distiller.

Wildwood will produce two spirits to start:

·         Kur Gin (pronounced ‘cure') is made in the London Dry Gin style. It's produced with Washington heirloom variety red winter wheat with classic juniper and Douglas Fir aromas and flavors of subtle citrus (Seville orange) and Braeburn apples from Liedholm's backyard.

·         Stark Vatten Vodka (Swedish for ‘strong water') is produced with Washington heirloom variety red winter wheat and pure, filtered water. The result is  a clean, viscous, oily vodka that displays a classic European style while remaining distinctly local.

Both were released in August 2014 and have already received nods at the acclaimed New York World Wine and Spirits Competition and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

The tasting room design is what Liedholm terms "apothecary chic," taking on the appearance of an early 1900s English drug store, complete with mill work, subway tile, Edison bulbs, and medicine bottles. The 400-square-foot space allows for an open view of the copper stills inside the distillery and includes settees and comfortable chairs for guests.

The distillery consists of one 450-liter alembic pot still, one 150-liter rectification still, and one 20-plate column still, made by German still manufacturer Christian CarlPer Liedholm, future plans include getting bourbon into barrels and releasing straight bourbon within two years. "Down the road we will produce a single malt whiskey aged in Sauternes barrels (a benefit of being in the wine business) and look to experiment with amari as well," Liedholm says.

Wildwood Spirits Co. is coming at 19116 Beardslee Boulevard, Suite 102, just down from Beardslee Public House. Pouring complimentary half-ounce tastes of Kur and Stark Vatten, the tasting room will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, and tours will be offered by appointment. It should open its doors sometime next month.

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