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Washington: Craft distillers say they can't survive without Olympia's help

March 11, 2019 9:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Crosscut

To reach customers, makers of Washington spirits say they need more tasting rooms and fewer serving limits.

Ryan Hembree cradles a bottle of vodka in one palm, telling two customers about the 17 pounds of potatoes that went into it. The couple sits across from him, their stools pulled up to the bar Hembree and his cousin made from slabs of cedar.

Just a few feet away, the production floor of Skip Rock Distillers is piled high with pallets of local rye. Barrels of rye whiskey are stacked against the far wall, set aside to age. Lining the wall behind Hembree are bottles of his house-made raspberry liqueur, blackberry liqueur and nocino, a liqueur made from walnuts.

It's all part of a movement craft distillers call "grain to glass" - the liquor version of "farm to table." Like other craft distillers throughout the state, Hembree makes his spirits on site, primarily from raw materials grown locally in Washington.

"Working with the farmers and securing the raw materials, and seeing the raw materials come in - I love that part of it," said Hembree, 45, who started his business in Snohomish 10 years ago.


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