Still Life

Coming to the Waterfront This Fall: Copperworks Distilling

Two longtime brewers ditch the hops in favor of whiskey and gin.

By Allecia Vermillion June 21, 2012

Now: A nondescript corner under the viaduct. This fall: A tasting room and distillery in the heart of the tourism zone. Image via Copperworks Distilling.

Seattle is awash in distillery news these days, and this morning distiller Jason Parker checked in with cool news of an upcoming waterfront attraction that has nothing to do with the new ferris wheel. Parker is planning Copperworks Distilling, a distillery, glass-walled tasting room, and retail shop near University Street and Alaskan Way. It’s a prime location, across the street from Elliott’s, near the Harbor Steps, and nearish to Pike Place Market, and even more so once the viaduct eventually comes down.

Copperworks will make all-malt gin and whiskey in—as the name implies—copper stills. Specifically, says Parker, “the prettiest stills Scotland has to offer,” which are scheduled to arrive this fall. One of these stills is designed specifically for gin, a rarity since many microdistilleries use the same still to produce a range of spirits.

While this is Parker’s first distillery (he originally planned to call his enterprise Big Derby Distilling but ran into trademark issues) he is no stranger to the process of coaxing alcoholic beverages out of raw ingredients. He was the very first head brewer at Pike Brewing when it opened in 1989, then went on to brew at places like Redhook, Pyramid, and Fish in Olympia. Copperworks’s head distiller is Micah Nutt, a longtime homebrewer and good friend of Parker’s. The preference for all-malt products isn’t a surprise given the men’s beer backgrounds. Essentially, says Parker, what goes into the still is a fermented, unhopped beer—"I just think of this as beer that’s growing up."

The 6,900-square-foot space will open its tasting room this fall. Parker plans to carry three varieties of whiskey (one similar in flavor to bourbon, another akin to scotch, and a rotating style) and three varieties of gin (a classic London dry-style, an assertively juniper-flavored jenever, and another rotating flavor). "We want to always be doing specialty stuff with odd wood and odd grains and odd yeasts."

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