There are so many reasons to love living in the Pacific Northwest: we’re coming off of one of the most incredible summers on record since the 1950s; the Seahawks, and local university football teams (Huskies, Cougs, Ducks, AND Beavs), are all off to respectable, if not killer, season starts; and if you love a perfectly crafted beverage made locally, your choices are exceedingly increasing.
Since the state of Washington passed a “Craft Distillery” bill in March of 2008, the local liquor landscape has changed dramatically. There are now 37 distilleries (at last count, but growing!) in the state, gaining a stronger market presence, and producing excellent products that can stand tall next to the giant world-wide labels with which they now share the shelf.
What defines a “craft distillery?” In the state of Washington, they are distinguished from their larger counterparts by the amount of spirits produced, which is a maximum of 60,000 proof gallons per year, and a minimum of 50% of the raw materials used for production must be grown in Washington state. The laws are bit different in Oregon, which is also a burgeoning industry – spirits produced in Oregon now account for an impressive 12% of the state’s liquor sales.
Lucky for us, Washington has fantastic agricultural products to source from, which this new generation of artisan distillers is brilliantly using to reflect our region. The products most notably used are: wheat, barley, apples, grapes, cherries, and berries.
In keeping with our business model of providing the best locally sourced products on the menu, El Gaucho has created space on our shelves to offer many of these fantastic Pacific Northwest spirits. While these brands might produce other products, here’s just a peek at what we carry:
2Bar Spirits: located in Sodo, makes a corn-based Moonshine and wheat-based Vodka.
Batch 206: located on Elliott near Interurban, Batch 206 Vodka is made from dry-farmed grains. Their Counter Gin is made of “carefully infused 8 botanical ingredients into high-purity grain spirits.”
Captive Spirits: located in Ballard, make “Big Gin,” which has a “burnt orange & juniper nose, finishing with a savory spice.”
Gridiron: El Gaucho’s own grape-based vodka label, produced by Glass Distillery.
Glass: located in Sodo, Glass Vodka is grape-based.
Dry Fly: one of the oldest distilleries in the state and based in Spokane. We carry their “Washington Wheat Whiskey” and Dry Fly Gin.
Oola: located on Capitol Hill, we currently carry their Citrus Vodka.
Soft Tail: located in Woodinville, their vodka is a lighter style and gluten-free, since they use apples.
Sun Liquor: another Capitol Hill locale, Hedge Trimmer Gin is made from non-malted, non-GMO organic wheat.
Tatoosh: Seattle based Whiskey and Bourbon.
Woodinville Whiskey: located, guess where?, and produce Rye and Bourbon.
Oregon’s laws are different from Washington’s, and they have a much longer history of producing craft spirits. El Gaucho Portland’s menu offers some terrific Oregon-made spirits, which include Aviation Gin, Crater Lake Vodka, and many more.
With so many new, local brands now available, it’s hard not to catch the spirit. We dare you to try something new, and switch up your usual cocktail order next time you wander in to your local watering hole. Plunk your hard-earned money down to support a local entrepreneur who is crafting liquid deliciousness. Our bartenders and servers would love to assist in steering you towards a palate-pleaser that benefits local businesses and economy.