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An Essential Guide to Seattle's Top Distilleries, Summer 2017

Go straight to the source for local spirits

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The local spirits movement has long lagged behind local wine or beer — it doesn't help that it's still illegal to distill at home in America, which means honing the hobby before going pro is a major challenge. For years, wannabe distillers in Seattle struggled with hurdle after hurdle in their pursuit of making great alcohol. Now, with (slightly) fewer Prohibition-era laws in place, small-batch booze is making steady headway, and dozens of distilleries are helping shape a vibrant scene; even international spirits group Rémy Cointreau has taken notice, recently acquiring renowned producer Westland Distillery.

From vodka guys to whiskey gals, absinthe aficionados to aquavit enthusiast, all types of booze-lovers will benefit from this guide to the area's essential liquor tasting rooms.

Note: Map points are ordered geographically and are not ranked by preference. Is your favorite distillery missing from the list? Show it some love in the comments, send an email, or start a forum thread in its honor.

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Seattle Distilling Company

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Seattle Distilling is just a ferry ride away from Downtown, amongst the beautiful farmland of Vashon Island (and a well-known community of anti-vaxers). This family-run business sources local, sustainable ingredients to make scratch spirits, including an herbaceous gin, unfiltered vodka, single-malt whiskey, and even a coffee liqueur for a hyperlocal White Russian.

2Bar Spirits

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Locally grown corn and wheat are the backbone of these true-to-Washington spirits; in fact, 2Bar’s bourbon was the first to be made from all Washington grain, and both the whiskey and moonshine are smoother than many.

Westland Distillery

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Recently purchased by The Rémy Cointreau Group, Westland has made a name for itself as being well-stocked with some of the best booze in town, and its tasting room has a thoughtful selection of small-pour cocktails. Whether the acquisition by an international conglomerate breaks your heart or lifts your spirits, toast the local legend by trying some Scotch-style peated whiskey, still an uncommon product for American producers, or the Pedro Ximinéz and Oloroso cask-aged Sherry Wood whiskey, infinitely drinkable alone or in a cocktail.

3 Howls Distillery

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This largely stark, industrial space is perpetually filled with dogs, appropriate given the company's name and logo. The owners love to show off their uniquely crafted gin, rum, vodka, and more in their tasting room, from time to time even sharing tastes directly from the still during tours.

Letterpress Distilling

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Skip Tognetti's Italian background informs his very fine booze-making efforts. The vodka is lovely, and it forms a perfect base for the limoncello and arancello rosso (blood orange liqueur), which are the real draws here. Look for an amaro coming soon.

Copperworks Tasting Room and Distillery

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A visit to this waterfront-adjacent space is a must. On one of the most interesting distillery tours around, you’ll learn about the history of Copperworks' stills, plus get the chance to taste an incredibly flavorful vodka. The company's classic gin and limited-edition aged gins are noteworthy, and two different types of single-malt whiskeys, alternating releases, are worth going out of your way for.

Sun Liquor Distillery

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This producer is favored by many barkeeps in town. Slightly overproof, Sun's Gun Club Gin is lovely in a dry martini, and the company's vodka and rum are also well-received. Adding bonus points, the distillery has a full-fledged following for its aged eggnog, which is released annually in very small quantities in the Sun Liquor Lounge, but is rumored to be more readily available this winter.

OOLA Distillery

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Fans of other brands’ flavored vodkas don’t know what they’re missing until they taste those engineered by this Capitol Hill micro-distillery. Here you’ll find chili pepper, rosemary, and citrus versions of the clear spirit, each with a bold, true flavor and plenty of useful applications. The whiskey and gin, plus a special edition of the latter aged in the former's barrel, are also lovely.

Batch 206

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It’s a good thing there's so much space at the distillery and tasting room on Elliott Avenue, because the awards keep coming. The company's Barrel Raider whiskey is blended in-house from outside sources, while Old Log Cabin Bourbon is a Washington malt-based spirit inspired by a historic brand. Try the 7 Stars Moonshine, too, which is made in several flavors. You can even sit in the Batch Bar and enjoy a house cocktail with delicious deep dish pie from pizzeria-in-residence Windy City Pie.

Fremont Mischief Distillery

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This indie-darling describes itself as “Steampunk meets the speakeasy.” Organic, heirloom grains and botanicals, artesian waters, and hand-made stills make this full-circle distillery what it is — pure and sweet. Look out for a handful of award-winning whiskeys alongside vodka and gin.

Sound Spirits

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The O.G. of Seattle's distilling scene, Sound started out making vodka and gin before expanding to whiskey, old tom gin, a variety of liqueurs, and the very tasty Blekksprut Aquavit.

Old Ballard Liquor Co.

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This tiny Ballard distillery makes a mighty fine Aquavit — fitting, considering the Scandinavian history of the neighborhood. Available in multiple flavors including classic caraway, citron, and dill, it’s a true expression of a traditional spirit. And don't miss the Cherry Bounce, an aged sour fruit liqueur. You can even sit and pair sips and samples with a board of cured fish now that there's a cafe aspect.

Captive Spirits

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Big Gin is nearly a household name thanks to the fine folks from Ballard’s Captive Spirits. With a classic variety and a bourbon barrel-aged version, plus a variety of limited releases (peat-barreled, anyone?), these aren’t your grandpa’s gin. Oh, and be on the lookout for a new distillery in just a few short months.

Woodinville Whiskey Co.

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With six years under its belts, Woodinville Whiskey Co. is the most recognized name in Washington State whiskey. Stop by to taste an American whiskey, straight bourbon whiskey, a rye variety, or even take home a kit to try aging your own.

J.P. Trodden

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Winner of a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition for his excellent bourbon, distiller Mark Neshiem has the Washington whiskey game on lock. Plus, with everything from the still to the barrels made in the USA, you’ll taste ‘Merica in every sip of the end product.

Pacific Distillery

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Follow the green fairy to Woodinville, where the Pacifique Absinthe is distilled and poured freely. Approachable and refreshing, it’s definitely worth the trip. The Voyager Gin, too, is a nice choice for the lover of London dry.

Wildwood Spirits & Co.

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John Howie wine director Erik Liedholm has an award-winning palate, scooping up plenty of hardware for his somm skills. In 2015, he put his palate to a different use, opening Wildwood Spirits in Bothell. There, he makes the beloved Kur gin, featuring apples from his own yard, as well as Douglas Fir.

Seattle Distilling Company

Seattle Distilling is just a ferry ride away from Downtown, amongst the beautiful farmland of Vashon Island (and a well-known community of anti-vaxers). This family-run business sources local, sustainable ingredients to make scratch spirits, including an herbaceous gin, unfiltered vodka, single-malt whiskey, and even a coffee liqueur for a hyperlocal White Russian.

2Bar Spirits

Locally grown corn and wheat are the backbone of these true-to-Washington spirits; in fact, 2Bar’s bourbon was the first to be made from all Washington grain, and both the whiskey and moonshine are smoother than many.

Westland Distillery

Recently purchased by The Rémy Cointreau Group, Westland has made a name for itself as being well-stocked with some of the best booze in town, and its tasting room has a thoughtful selection of small-pour cocktails. Whether the acquisition by an international conglomerate breaks your heart or lifts your spirits, toast the local legend by trying some Scotch-style peated whiskey, still an uncommon product for American producers, or the Pedro Ximinéz and Oloroso cask-aged Sherry Wood whiskey, infinitely drinkable alone or in a cocktail.

3 Howls Distillery

This largely stark, industrial space is perpetually filled with dogs, appropriate given the company's name and logo. The owners love to show off their uniquely crafted gin, rum, vodka, and more in their tasting room, from time to time even sharing tastes directly from the still during tours.

Letterpress Distilling

Skip Tognetti's Italian background informs his very fine booze-making efforts. The vodka is lovely, and it forms a perfect base for the limoncello and arancello rosso (blood orange liqueur), which are the real draws here. Look for an amaro coming soon.

Copperworks Tasting Room and Distillery

A visit to this waterfront-adjacent space is a must. On one of the most interesting distillery tours around, you’ll learn about the history of Copperworks' stills, plus get the chance to taste an incredibly flavorful vodka. The company's classic gin and limited-edition aged gins are noteworthy, and two different types of single-malt whiskeys, alternating releases, are worth going out of your way for.

Sun Liquor Distillery

This producer is favored by many barkeeps in town. Slightly overproof, Sun's Gun Club Gin is lovely in a dry martini, and the company's vodka and rum are also well-received. Adding bonus points, the distillery has a full-fledged following for its aged eggnog, which is released annually in very small quantities in the Sun Liquor Lounge, but is rumored to be more readily available this winter.

OOLA Distillery

Fans of other brands’ flavored vodkas don’t know what they’re missing until they taste those engineered by this Capitol Hill micro-distillery. Here you’ll find chili pepper, rosemary, and citrus versions of the clear spirit, each with a bold, true flavor and plenty of useful applications. The whiskey and gin, plus a special edition of the latter aged in the former's barrel, are also lovely.

Batch 206

It’s a good thing there's so much space at the distillery and tasting room on Elliott Avenue, because the awards keep coming. The company's Barrel Raider whiskey is blended in-house from outside sources, while Old Log Cabin Bourbon is a Washington malt-based spirit inspired by a historic brand. Try the 7 Stars Moonshine, too, which is made in several flavors. You can even sit in the Batch Bar and enjoy a house cocktail with delicious deep dish pie from pizzeria-in-residence Windy City Pie.

Fremont Mischief Distillery

This indie-darling describes itself as “Steampunk meets the speakeasy.” Organic, heirloom grains and botanicals, artesian waters, and hand-made stills make this full-circle distillery what it is — pure and sweet. Look out for a handful of award-winning whiskeys alongside vodka and gin.

Sound Spirits

The O.G. of Seattle's distilling scene, Sound started out making vodka and gin before expanding to whiskey, old tom gin, a variety of liqueurs, and the very tasty Blekksprut Aquavit.

Old Ballard Liquor Co.

This tiny Ballard distillery makes a mighty fine Aquavit — fitting, considering the Scandinavian history of the neighborhood. Available in multiple flavors including classic caraway, citron, and dill, it’s a true expression of a traditional spirit. And don't miss the Cherry Bounce, an aged sour fruit liqueur. You can even sit and pair sips and samples with a board of cured fish now that there's a cafe aspect.

Captive Spirits

Big Gin is nearly a household name thanks to the fine folks from Ballard’s Captive Spirits. With a classic variety and a bourbon barrel-aged version, plus a variety of limited releases (peat-barreled, anyone?), these aren’t your grandpa’s gin. Oh, and be on the lookout for a new distillery in just a few short months.

Woodinville Whiskey Co.

With six years under its belts, Woodinville Whiskey Co. is the most recognized name in Washington State whiskey. Stop by to taste an American whiskey, straight bourbon whiskey, a rye variety, or even take home a kit to try aging your own.

J.P. Trodden

Winner of a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition for his excellent bourbon, distiller Mark Neshiem has the Washington whiskey game on lock. Plus, with everything from the still to the barrels made in the USA, you’ll taste ‘Merica in every sip of the end product.

Related Maps

Pacific Distillery

Follow the green fairy to Woodinville, where the Pacifique Absinthe is distilled and poured freely. Approachable and refreshing, it’s definitely worth the trip. The Voyager Gin, too, is a nice choice for the lover of London dry.

Wildwood Spirits & Co.

John Howie wine director Erik Liedholm has an award-winning palate, scooping up plenty of hardware for his somm skills. In 2015, he put his palate to a different use, opening Wildwood Spirits in Bothell. There, he makes the beloved Kur gin, featuring apples from his own yard, as well as Douglas Fir.

Related Maps