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.