So many distilleries yet to visit, but I have tried their products!
In addition to visiting a number of distilleries in the State of Washington, I have also purchased a number of Washington made products. Most of the purchases were made at Total Wine, for a national chain they carry an impressive list of local items. They actively seek out products from craft and micro distilleries to carry on their shelves. Bevmo, another national chain carries a few Washington items, mostly the larger distilleries of the state. Fred Meyer stores also carry a good selection of local spirits. I have also visited a couple independent shops that stock products from Washington. Liquor and Liquor on North 6th Avenue in Tacoma and Martin Bruni Liquors in Ocean Shores are a good bet to find something from Washington.
In no particular order, here are my reviews of products from distilleries I have yet to visit. 3 Howls Distillery in Seattle is one of the easier products to find to sample, besides larger bottles they also product most of their products in 50 ml bottles. This makes it easy to sample items and spend only a few bucks for each. Their most popular item is their Backbeat bourbon. It has a nice clean taste and goes down easy. It rates with the national brands at its price point. I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
I also like the 3 Howls Rye whiskey. It has a bold flavor without being overpowering. It gets a 4.4 out of 5. The vodka and Gold labeled rum are pretty standard far. The vodka has a mild flavor and will work in any vodka drink, it gets a 4.3 out of 5. The rum was a bit sweeter than I care for, it’s a 4.2 out of 5. The only 3 Howls product I didn’t care for was the Hop Flavored whiskey. I thought it might have a flavor similar to beer but it doesn’t. It’s bitter and to me anyway, was hard to swallow. Like any product I would not drink again, it does not warrant a rating.
Another distillery that has products in 50 ml bottles is Fremont Mischief. My favorite is their John Jacob Rye. Very smooth and a warming burn on the way down. It’s one of the better ryes out there. It gets a 4.7 out of 5. They also have a straight rye whiskey. It’s not as smooth as the John Jacob but does have a similar flavor profile. I give it a 4.2. Other Fremont products that I have tried is their Whiskey and Vodka. The whiskey is good, the taste has a hint of rye. It is not shown as available on the FM website at this time. Like the 3 Howls, FM vodka is pretty much standard fare I give both the whiskey and vodka 4.2 out of 5.
The last items I tried that came in 50 ml bottles was Oola Distillery’s Waitsburg bourbon and their vodka. The Waitsburg bourbon has a clean taste and the right amount of sweetness. I sampled some Makers Mark bourbon at the same time, the Oola product was clearly better. It is on my must buy list when I get the time to visit the Oola distillery. I found the vodka very smooth without the slight bitterness of the 2 mentioned above. I drank it straight and found it very enjoyable. Both Oola products get a 4.5 out of 5.
While perusing the aisles of my local Total Wine one day, an employee asked me what I was looking for. I asked him if he had to choose a Washington made whiskey, what would he choose. He went straight to a bottle of Stone Carver Barrel Aged Whiskey from Sandstone Distillery in Tenino. That man knows his whiskey. Stone Carver has a nice complex aroma and is a smooth of a whiskey out there. My preferred method of drinking this is in a Glencairn glass with a single ice cube. I give this a 4.9 out of 5. That’s my highest rating for any product so far.
Last year I found a bottle of 2 Bar Bourbon on sale at Fred Meyer so one came home with me. I found it pretty standard from a taste profile and a bit rough around the edges. The bourbon mellowed while sitting on the shelf and the last drink from the bottle was a bit smoother. I give it a 4.2 out of 5.
Last spring I found myself in University Place near Tacoma and thought I would stop in at Chambers Bay Distillery. Unfortunately they closed early that day so they are still on my list of places to visit. Another planned visit that day was Liquor and Liquor in Tacoma and I found they carried Chambers Bay’s products. I chose the straight bourbon over their Greenhorn bourbon based on a clerk’s suggestion. For what’s supposed to be their premium product, I was disappointed. To the nose it have pungent aroma. The flavor was somewhat overpowering. I found myself adding more ice water to this when I drank it to smooth it down a bit. I had a chance to sample CB’s Greenhorn bourbon at a restaurant and would consider a smoother version of its big brother. I give the Straight bourbon a 4.1 out of 5, the Greenhorn gets a 4.3.
Another product I want to try again is J.P. Trodden’s Black Label Bourbon. I found it at a Mexican restaurant in Auburn and gave it a try. The smell test passed with flying colors, my first sip took my breath away, literally. It hit the back of my tongue with gusto and that continued down my throat. Before my next sip I ruined my taste buds on some overly spicy salsa so I was unable to really enjoy the bourbon. My liquor cabinet is currently well stocked in bourbons so I’m holding off on buying my own bottle of JP’s bourbon. For now I’m giving it a 4.7 out of 5, which could easily change after my next taste.
My only time trying Puget Sound Rum Company’s Amber rum was in a hot buttered rum last years. It tasted pretty good but I can’t really rate it based on that one sample.
I had a chance to taste Glass Distillery’s vodka on New Year’s Eve. I drank it straight and it has about a clean taste as you will find in a premium vodka. I then tried it in a vodka martini, the bit of vermouth ruined a good thing. I give it a 4.8 out of 5.
I also tried Batch 206 Distillery’s vodka the same weekend. It reminded me of cheap bottom shelf vodka plus it had a strong chemical like odor. This had me wondering if the bar was refilling empty bottle with a cheap replacement. I’m going to hold off rating this till I try it again to verify I got the real thing.
I found Tatoosh Distillery’s Bourbon at of all places, a bagel shop. The shop also serves some great sandwiches too. The bourbon is very nice, it had a nutty undertone with a hint of chocolate, almost like a peanut butter cup. This distillery is near the top of my list of distilleries to visit in the near future based on someone’s personal taste of their rye. I give the bourbon a 4.6 out of 5.
I found Westland Distilling’s American Oak Whiskey at a restaurant in Covington. I asked for it with a splash of ice water, the bartender did it right, shook crushed ice and water in a shaker before adding It to the whiskey. It has a delightful aroma, almost like smell of a piece of oak at a lumber yard. The flavors of the grain really come through and there is a warming feel as it goes down. Yum. I give it a 4.8 out of 5.
Seattle Distilling’s Idle Hour whiskey needs a bit of work to be a top shelf product. The taste was off just a bit, not sure why. I give it a 4.3.
I found The Hardware Distillery’s vodka on sale at Total Wine so I bought a bottle. The vodka is on par with many of the distilleries in Washington. Maybe a bit more filtering would help make it a top shelf item I give it a 4.3.
I am on my second bottle of Skip Rock Distillers’ Rye whiskey. The first bottle would rate a 4.6, the second bottle does not appear to be the same. It probably doesn’t help the other 2 ryes I am drinking at this time are from Woodinville Whiskey and Cadee Distilling. I am going to now rate it a 4.3.
Back in May good fortune smiled down on me and I won a nice chuck of change in the Powerball lottery game. I stopped at Total Wine to get something to celebrate and brought home a bottle of Woodinville Whiskey Company’s Straight Rye whiskey. The nose lets you know your are drinking rye. It has a bold flavor palette with a hint of smoky goodness. This is my choice when I grilling a steak for dinner. I give it a 4.7 out of 5.
The next two I reviewed on my Lap of Washington posts. Exalt Vodka from Eagle Cliffs Distillery is made from potatoes the old fashioned way. It’s a great mixing vodka, it has good vodka flavor without the bitterness of some vodkas. I give it a 4.4. Walla Walla Distilling whiskey it good with a bit of a rough edge. It’s a nice sipper for around a camp fire. I give it a 4.3.
The next products are from distilleries that are no longer in business so their product may be hard to find. Mt. Baker Distilling’s whiskey falls into the good but could be great category. I give it a 4.4 out of 5. Whiskey Gap Distilling out of the small town of Ritzville is the other. I stopped by the distillery last September to find it permanently closed. I did find their products at my local Total Wine and bought one of each, Red Handed Whiskey and Fields of Gold Whiskey. Each has its own flavor profile, the Red Handed tastes like it has rye in its mash bill, the Fields of Gold is straight wheat. Both spend 3 months in oak casks before bottling, it feel some more time would have produced a much better product. I give both a 4.2 out of 5. As of this morning Total Wine is showing all the products available at some, not all of the Washington Total Wine stores.
That wraps up my reviews for everything from Washington I have sampled. I have a couple weekend road trips planned this fall, each is wrapped around distillery visits.