Lap Around Washington, East of the Cascades.
Our lap around Washington continued on Highway 20 over the North Cascade Highway all the way to Colville. My only planned distillery stop for this day was Dominion Distillery in Colville but just before we left home, we were informed that Dominion was closed and none of their products were available. We found out after arriving in Colville that the head distiller had left to work for someone else and that the owners were looking for a new head distiller.
The next day our first stop was in Spokane, first to visit an old friend then to check out a new distillery. This is my second stop at Dry Fly Distilling, I stopped last year on our way to Montana. I tried a flight of 3 different products, Wheat whiskey, Port Finish wheat whiskey and O'Danaghers Caledonian Whiskey. The Wheat whiskey has a nice wheat scent with a hint of butterscotch. The first sip hit with a bit more bite than I expected but was smooth on the palette. The finish was strong with an easy burn with a hint of spice. I really haven’t had much wheat whiskey to compare this to, but a couple of stop here east of the mountains will give me a sampling of how Dry Fly’s compares. I would give it a 4.3 out of 5.
My next sample was Dry Fly’s version of an Irish whiskey, O’Danaghers Caledonian Whiskey. The scent reminded me of some typical Irish and Scotch whiskeys. The first sip was a surprise, I wasn’t expecting such a peat type taste. The only thing I would compare this to was Tullamore Dew. I am not real fond of Tullamore and this O’Danaghers did not find my sweet spot. The earthy tones of these types of whiskeys take a bit of getting used to, I am not there yet. I give this a 3.9 out of 5.
My last sample was Dry Fly’s Port finished wheat whiskey. It was much like the regular wheat whiskey but the hint of port stepped things up a notch. The aroma reminded me of a smell from a winery visit many years ago, the vintner was trying his hand a making mead. The taste had a bit more of a bitter bite than the regular wheat and the finish lingered on the back of the tongue. I give this a 4.4 out of 5.
My next decision was which products I was going to bring home. Their single malt was a slam dunk. I already had a bottle of the Bourbon 101 at home. I decided on the Triticale Whiskey. It is one of my favorites and the price was much better than the big box liquor store. I think I’ll add the Port Finish wheat to my stash for the Holiday season, it is available locally.
Our next stop is a newcomer to the spirit world, Warrior Spirits. It’s not far from Dry Fly. The owner have lofty goals for Warrior, I hope they do well. The only spirits available when we stopped was a gin and 3 flavors of vodka. I’m still getting my feet under me when it comes to gin. I like those that are taking gin in a new direction, Warrior’s gin is a typical dry variety. I am not a fan of flavored vodkas so I chose not to sample anything during this visit. On their list of thing coming soon are a single malt whiskey, a rye whiskey and a bourbon. Warrior Spirits will definitely be on my list of places to stop when I am in the area again next year.
We have 4 stops left on my list for Eastern Washington but only one of them would be open when I was in the area. I stopped by XO Alambic in Dayton for a few pictures. It’s easy to find, look for the Jolly Green Giant on the hill behind the building. I am very intrigued by XO’s offerings, the whiskeys are at the high end (for me anyway) and the distiller has a reputation for very good spirits. If I could have found a bottle, I was ready to splurge on XO’s Scythe & Sheaf ancient grains whiskey. Their single malt is made from malted barley and roasted malts. My lust for one of these will have to wait.
We then drove by Walla Walla Distilling. They do not have a tasting room so the only way to try some was to buy a bottle. I made an inquiry before I left on vacation, the owner suggested Harvest Foods in Walla Walla, and they were the first store to carry his product. I found his products at the store and picked up a bottle of WW Whiskey. I have since had a chance to try it and found it to be of better than average quality. It has a very unique grain flavor and a slap to the back of the head finish. This would be the whiskey I would share while sitting around a campfire. I give it a 4.3 out of 5.
Tami and I then went by DW Distilling for a couple of pictures. They specialize in brandy and I’m always on the lookout for a good brandy. I had hoped to get a bottle but did not find it at Harvest Foods or Safeway in Walla Walla. Maybe next time I’m in the area they will be open.
My final Eastern Washington stop was 2nd Street Distilling. It’s located in the downtown core of Walla Walla. I tried a couple samples while there, RJ Callaghan Single Malt and Reser’s Rye. The single malt starts with a very strong nose, it actually reminded me of my first whiff of grain alcohol. It’s taste is of pepper and vinegar with a unexpected burn going down. At the time I gave it a 3.6 out of 5.
The rye also had a strong scent and like the single malt, had a surprising kick on the tongue. It had the most rye bread taste of any rye I have had the pleasure to sample. At the time I gave it a 3.9 out of 5. Later I realized that I really didn’t give 2nd Street products a fair shake. I arrived after a long drive and was a bit parched and was hungry. Looking back, I would now give the single malt a 4.2 out of 5 and the rye a 4.3 out of 5. And I wish I would have bought a bottle of either one. Their products are not available locally and I don’t have plans to visit Walla Walla in the near or distant future. It’s my loss.
I had hoped to stop at Black Heron Spirits in West Richland when I was in the Tri-Cities area but their tasting room was closed and was being taken over by a winery. They have plans of opening in a new and bigger location in the future.
Next will be the final leg of my lap around Washington, the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. Had a rather disappointing experience and found a new kid on the block working some magic.