craft distilleries
Image: Kyle Johnson

(Clockwise from top left) Sun Liquor’s 20-gallon test still; 10-gallon barrels aging bourbon at Oola; Project V’s four stills, homemade from used and repurposed materials; corn and wheat mash in the still at MacDonald.

Golden Distillery


Semiretired restaurateurs Jim Caudill and Bob Stillnovich use 90 percent Washington ingredients in their whiskeys and brandies, a fact they credit to the highly arable Skagit Valley. What and Where Two whiskeys and five brandies (raspberry, blackberry, apple, cabernet sauvignon, and syrah) are currently in stock. Golden ages its offerings in small (10-gallon) barrels as opposed to larger and cheaper 55- to 60-gallon drums, increasing the surface-area-to-volume ratio and resulting in faster aging so their stuff tastes older sooner. (That’s a good thing.) Head out to Bow to visit the tasting room, which, the whiskey makers boast, “might have the best view of any distillery in the world,” looking out on the Samish Bay. The single-malt Samish Bay Whiskey ($36) is sold at select state liquor stores. When Look for the school-bus-yellow shingle marked “Tasting Room and Sales”; hours are a little loosey-goosey so call ahead to confirm someone will meet you there.

Golden Distillery, 9746 Samish Island Rd, Bow, 360-542-8332;

It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere

Distiller Colin Levi personally picks most of the fruit that goes into his brandies and liqueurs, and he says he’s experimented with just about every sort of fruit there is, including Asian pear, a memorably unpalatable distilling fruit. What and Where Levi is all about capturing the essential character of fruit and grains in his pear, rhubarb, and elderberry liqueurs, corn whiskey, and Chilean-style brandy. All products are available via special order at state liquor stores, but the tasting room in Cashmere, decked out with Prohibition-era photos and other Chelan County artifacts, is definitely worth a visit. When It’s 5 O’Clock schedules visits to its tasting room by appointment (call ahead) weekdays from 10 to 5 and weekends from 1 to 5.

It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere, 207 Mission Ave, Cashmere, 509-860-0102;

MacDonald Distillery

Among the ranks of liquor-industry-vets-turned-distillers is Glen MacDonald, who spent 25 years in the distribution biz.What and Where MacDonald says his unaged Ty Wolfe White Whiskey ($38) keeps selling out, so if you can score some, do it. A line of fruit liqueurs is coming soon, some of which has been sourced from the backyard of distiller and friend Ryan Hembree (also of Skip Rock Distillers). MacDonald’s Snohomish tasting room—housed in a historical building that, 100 years ago, was a stable for the local fire department—is on the building’s second floor, so you can overlook the still, and, when it’s open, get a big boozy whiff of what’s cooking. Be sure to sample the floral Isis Gin ($33), less junipery than your average gin. When Distillery tours offered by appointment only, but the tasting room is open Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5.

MacDonald Distillery, 104 Ave C, Snohomish, 360-862-0272;

Oola Distillery

Oola founder Kirby Kallas-Lewis runs his Union Street distillery and tasting room with the aid of managing director Brandon Gillespie, a former Mighty-O Donuts GM. Talk about creative confluence: Kallas-Lewis’s wife KT Niehoff runs her dance company out of an adjoining studio. Outfitted with a kitchen, the studio doubles as an event space for tasting parties and culinary wingdings. What and Where Oola’s long list of products currently in the works includes a chili-laced vodka (made with peppers grown in Yakima); at press time only its caramelly gin and a smooth wheaty vodka were in the bottle. The gin and vodka are currently available to sample at the Capitol Hill tasting room, a two-level construction that Kallas-Lewis hopes to one day turn into a bar celebrating handcrafted libations of all sorts. When Visit the handsome metal-and-repurposed-wood tasting room—designed by neighborhood architect Graham Baba—between 2 and 8 Tuesday through Thursday; Friday and Saturday from 2 to 10; and Sunday from 2 to 6.

Oola Distillery, 1314 E Union St, Capitol Hill, 206-709-7909;

Pacific Distillery

Master distiller Marc Bernhard is a hero among fans of absinthe for his Pacifique ($63), an earthy take on the Green Fairy that required years of research and experimentation inside his old-school copper alembic stills. Bernhard famously grows his booze botanicals (wormwood, lemon balm, hyssop) in his own garden, but he’s not afraid to shop elsewhere. His commitment to buying the best flavor agents from far-flung sources helps keep his products at the top of the heap—on par with some of the best new spirits you’ll find anywhere. What and Where In addition to the Pacifique, Bernhard makes Voyager Gin ($26), a popular mixer with a subtle sweetness and a lovely citrus aroma. Call ahead to schedule a tour of Pacific’s Woodinville distillery. When Pacific welcomes visitors for tours from 10 to 3 on Saturday, but suggests emailing to make sure the distiller will be on duty.

Pacific Distillery, 18808 142nd Ave NE Ste 4B, Woodinville, 425-350-9061;