About a year ago word spread of a new distilling enterprise slated for the Pike/Pine corridor. The name was Black Label Spirits, and the man behind it Cory Duffy.
Today Duffy is still busy building that business but in a different location. Negotiations for the spot on Capitol Hill fell through, so since late last summer he’s been operating out of a space two doors down from Salumi. He’s also been touting a different name: Rain City Spirits. The Black Label moniker, he explains, is the parent company.
The focus of the Rain City label is vodka distilled from local grains. Duffy describes it as a “martini vodka” with a clean nose and hints of citrus. You may soon see Rain City at local bars and restaurants but “June will be the big push.”
In true Seattle spirit Duffy’s venture has DIY written all over it. A good portion of the distilling equipment Duffy made. He’s recruiting volunteers to help with bottling and labeling, and he produces 25-gallon batches so as to have ultimate control over the product. One thing he’s not handling is distribution. As of two weeks ago Duffy was choosing between two local distributors. Unlike other craft distillers that opt to market their products themselves, Duffy would rather hand off that duty. “It takes away from what I want to do—make vodka.”
Duffy, long familiar with the restaurant biz and formerly a home brewer, got serious about distilling two years ago. He’s taking baby steps, planning to build the brand then scale up if there’s an interest. For now Duffy is focused on stocking restaurants and bars, and may establish a retail presence in two years. The goal is to produce between 300 and 500 bottles a month. Eventually he wants to infiltrate other markets but will never venture out of state. As for a tasting room, Duffy doesn’t plan to open one but does hope to organize distiller’s nights around town.
Keep tabs on Rain City’s progress on Facebook.