A Quick Tour of the new Bainbridge Island distillery

Keith Barnes, left, helps his son Patrick change out the container that catches the distilled product at the business they've started, Bainbridge Organic Distillery.

Now we’ve had craft brews, craft wines, and apparently the new movement in the lush world of spirits are craft distilleries. And a new one is set to open in August on Bainbridge Island.

Bainbridge Organic Distillery is one of a half dozen new craft distilleries to be approved to start up in Washington state since a law last summer allowed craft distilleries, according to a May Seattle Times article. More than a dozen others also were awaiting approval at the time. Also according to the Times story, another hopeful Bainbridge operation, Hidden Cove Distillery, also was awaiting approval from the state, but I wasn’t able to track down more information in a brief search.


The Bainbridge Organic Distillery will likely open later this month, but owners Keith Barnes and his son Patrick, gave a few of us from the Sun a sneak peak (maybe not so sneak, but it makes me feel special) at the operation off Sportsman Club Road. They make whiskey, and as that ages, they also make a gin and vodka to sell while their whiskey ages.

The first batch of whiskey hasn’t had a lot of time to age (they just started the operation less than a year ago), but the couple, quick tastes I had revealed it as an already complex drink. It’s caramel in color and in the first sweet notes that waft up from a snifter. It hits the tongue smooth and warm with a smoky exhale that the alcohol picked up from the charred inside of oak barrels. The gin, a drink that I’m in general not as familiar with, had definite notes of juniper berry as well as the characteristic pine-like bite.

When they open later in August, I’ll take one for the team and do more in-depth tastings.

In addition to the great lesson in distilling, I learned at least one whiskey-drinking hint. Patrick showed me how to bring out the flavor notes in a whiskey by adding a touch of water, in this case RO water, essentially a filtered water. It wasn’t enough to water it down, but it cut it just enough to smooth it out a little more and all the smoky, sweet notes just popped.

Bainbridge reporter Tristan Baurick will have many more details about the distillery in Monday’s paper, but I thought I’d share the video I shot now. The first one is the one that will go with the story. The second is just some raw footage of Keith Barnes describing the distilling process, which I cut out of the final video, but that I found just so darn interesting that I shared it here.

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