Washington State has not seen whiskey leave a still in 76 years.
Wait… Hold on… I’m going to go back on that. Let’s try that again.
Washington State has not seen whiskey legally leave a still in 76 years.
Before 1919, Washington State had a number of distilleries, but that chapter ended with the Volstead Act – that story closed with prohibition.
Happily, this book was again opened last year when the State of Washington passed HB 2205, which finally allowed for distilleries to be operated in Washington State. Dryfly Distilling worked with the state to draft the legislation and deservedly were the first distillery to take advantage of these new abilities, distilling in Spokane their vodka and gin that is for sale on your local liquor store shelves. Starting this month though, Dryfly released their first whiskey, selling the results of 10, fifteen gallon barrels that were put down 14 months ago which resulted in around 900 bottles for sale, all which sold out within the first week that Dryfly offered their wheat whiskey for sale with people waiting outside of the liquor stores when the doors opened in order to guarantee that they were able to get their hands on a few bottles.
Whiskey can be made from many things. For instance, bourbon, that uniquely American product is made from at least 51% corn, the balance often being rye (which is the basis for many Canadian whiskies), barley (which is the basis for Scotch whiskey) and wheat – which is what Dryfly whiskey is made from: 100% Washington Wheat.
There’s something special about an all-wheat whiskey. In fact, it’s rather rare, the most known all-wheat whiskey being Bernheim, which is made in Kentucky and has been since travelling salesman Issac Bernheim’s horse died and he was stuck in Kentucky finally opening a distillery in 1896. But, what made Dryfly chose an all-wheat whiskey? Well, I asked Kent Fleischmann that exact question,
“We being in Wheat country and all, well it just seemed to make sense. And besides, you know we like to do things a bit different.”, he replied.
Since Washington started allowing distilleries to operate, there are three licensed distilleries producing and selling products – Dryfly in Spokane (vodka/gin/whiskey), and then Pacific Distillery (Voyager Gin/Pacificque Absinthe) and Softail Spirits (grappa), both located 20 minutes outside of Seattle in Woodenville. Soon though, you’ll see distilleries operating in Sodo (Sodo Distillery) and Sound Distillery, located in Ballard. So, that makes at least five distilleries which will presumably be in operation by the end of the year – but, catching up with Oregon’s 17 distilleries…? We shall see.
What does it taste like? Well, THAT is the important question, is it not?
Wheat whiskey is known for being a touch more sweet and bit less harsh on the palate, and this whiskey conforms to that expectation. Dryfly is whiskey, no doubt – light, sweet and surprisingly pleasant for such a young spirit, with a rich golden/light-amber color. Contrast this with other new whiskeys, such as Tuthilltown Spirits who distill their whiskeys up the Hudson in Gardiner, NY, whose many different options are … um … less than quite as successful as is this first Dryfly batch.
Watch this link at Straightbourbon.com for reviews.
And, if you find a bottle, give it a taste and let us know what you think.