Woodinville Whiskey, formerly known as Puget Sound Distilling, will be open for tours and tastings beginning this weekend. You can find it at 16110 Woodinville Redmond Road Suite three, just up the road from the Redhook Brewery and the Herbfarm.
The big plan is bourbon. Woodinville Whiskey has been working with David Pickerell, recently retired master distiller at Maker’s Mark, to create the bourbon that has been aging for two months in 30-gallon new American oak barrels in their production room. When will they bottle it? “When it’s ready,” says Orlin Sorensen, who owns WW alongside best pal Brett Carlile.
What’s available to taste and buy now is a vodka called Peabody Jones ($38.95) and a white dog—clear, unaged whiskey—by the name of Headlong ($34.95). Both are 100-percent organic.
I stopped by this morning and tried both. The vodka has a distinctly creamy mouthfeel and a hint of citrus. And the raw whiskey? By its very nature, White Dog is a bumpy ride. At first you grab the car door handle and hope the airbag is functional. But once your system adapts, it can be a pleasant experience, and one that stays with you for a while afterwards—like the aftershocks of adrenaline you experience after bungee-jumping off a bridge in New Zealand (to use a highly specific example). And I found Headlong to be readily palatable, even at 10 in the morning. It tasted to me like banana skins and, naturally enough, corn. I liked it.
A word about white dog: It’s only been two years since craft distilling has been a viable business in Washington State. New distillers who want to ultimately sell an aged spirit but need to start seeing some return on their investment have to offer up an unaged spirit (or two), and try to sell that while their flagship product gathers flavor in the barrel.
The typical way to do that is to make vodka and gin. But neither of those can help WW establish itself as a whiskeymaker. But by bottling a white dog, they’ve created a calling card for the quality of their product. When you drink aged whiskey, much of what you experience—from a flavor point of view—happened in the barrel. You don’t get to taste the base spirit. But white dog is about tasting grains and whatever the distiller lends to them during distilling. It’s like an x-ray of the whiskey.
Stop by the distillery this weekend and taste some for yourself.