Our local distilleries are always working to deliver a variety of tasty new products--even over the holidays, it seems, as we already have a bunch of fresh bottles to talk about, and the year is young. While it can be hard to keep up with all the Washington-made spirits and liqueurs, this is a delicious problem to have. So remember: drink local, perhaps starting with one of the below.
Woodinville Whiskey Company Barrel-Aged Wildflower Honey and Maple Syrup: You might not drink either of these neat (though they make delicious ingredients in cocktails), but I just find the creativity of our local distillers fantastic, and this is a great example. After the barrels used to make their bourbon and rye whiskeys are empty, the distillers refill them with pure, grade-A, dark amber maple syrup and Pacific Northwest mountain wildflower honey. Then the syrup and honey are aged in the barrels, where those ingredients pick up hints of caramel, wood spice and whiskey. Currently you can only get the Barrel-Aged Wildflower and the Maple Syrup at the distillery (right now at 16110 Woodinville Redmond Road, but moving soon so watch the website), but they ($19.95 for a 250ml bottle) should show in other spots before long.
Seattle Distilling Company Luana Beach Coffee Liqueur: You’d think that the Seattle area would be overflowing with coffee liqueurs, but it’s a lean genre on liquor-store shelves. Which isn’t the only reason why it’s so exciting that the Luana Beach Coffee Liqueur (350 ml bottle, $19) is out. It's also a very rich and scrumptious liqueur, made with the Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie's Orca Blend coffee. The liqueur delivers a very pure coffee flavor, underlined with a touch of sweetness and a bit of a kick. It’s a boon for anyone who likes a coffee-based cocktail and it also goes down good to the last drop solo or mixed with espresso.
3 Howls Navy Strength Gin: As an homage of sorts to Seattle’s lengthy port history while also giving a shout out to the sailors in our armed forces, the new Navy Strength Gin ($34) from 3 Howls has an oomph reminiscent of the gins that used to be served onboard. This means it runs about 10 percent stronger than most gins (including 3 Howls regular gin). But it doesn’t sacrifice flavor, and still brings an intense and layered juniper-based profile to the fore, along with that extra strength. This combination means that it makes for a great gin and tonic, as well as working splendidly in other cocktails. If it’s not on the shelf as of this posting, it’ll be out soon.
Heritage Distilling Company Elk Rider Blended Whiskey: To be honest, this whiskey made in Gig Harbor came out about two months ago, but I only recently tried it, and two months ago still equals a pretty new release. It was released in honor of the distillery’s first anniversary. Elk Rider ($45) is a very friendly blended whiskey, one that has a bit of a bourbon feel, but also boasts its own personality, with a nice balanced spiciness and just a touch of sweetness--all together a smooth whiskey that can be sipped neat, over ice or mixed nicely into cocktails.
Scrappy’s Anniversary Party: Scrappy isn’t a distillery by the scientific definition, but as a producer of fine cocktail ingredients, Scrappy (sometimes known as Miles Thomas) deserves to stand alongside our local distillers. Especially when throwing a big party, as Thomas is doing next Thursday, January 30, at 8:30 p.m. at the 1927 Events space (1927 3rd Avenue). It’s been five years since Scrappy's started releasing delicious bitters, and to celebrate, the party will be rife with Blue Eyed Soul playing music, a live burlesque performance, a photo booth, and of course awesome drinks featuring Scrappy’s bitters and products from sponsors such as Rachel's Ginger Beer, Novo Fogo, Sun Liquor, Woodenville Whisky, Sound Spirits, Vinum distributing, Standard brewing and more. It’s gonna be awesome--check out the Scrappy’s Facebook page for RSVP details.