Big Bottom Distilling Oregon Gin

by Brett Konen

Lately I’ve been interested in the development of regional Northwest gin styles—so interested that I investigated the topic as the…


Rum and wine aren’t always bedfellows, but Skip Rock Distillers thinks they make a fine combination. Rum is a recent addition to the lineup from the Snohomish-based distillery, which has recently released the white wine barrel-aged Belle Rose Rum, as well as an amber version more classically aged in used whiskey barrels.
Bottled at 80 proof, the lighter iteration of the spirit retains just a brush of straw-gold color.

Rye whiskey has emerged from bourbon’s shadow in the last decade. Each year, it seems there are dozens of new labels on store shelves to choose from. In the Pacific Northwest, the craft distilling pioneers at Woodinville Whiskey Co. in Woodinville, Washington released their first rye in 2012. This spicier, grassier cousin of bourbon is traditionally the whiskey of choice for Manhattans, Old-Fashioneds and Sazeracs. But, the uses for rye do not end there.

If you’re reading this, odds are you’ve thought at least once of how awesome it would be to open a winery, brewery, distillery or cidery. To pack up the box from the boring 9-5 job you hate, and start doing the thing you love: making amazing booze.
With the number of breweries in the United States breaking the 3,000 mark last summer, and hundreds of more to come, it is clear that the craft beer market is ripe for the plucking.

This last weekend marked the fifth annual iteration of TOAST, and the event was well worth the drive down I-5. It brought together more than forty Northwest distillers to pour a wide range of products alongside craft cocktails, non-alcoholic complements (Raft Botanicals, Bradley’s Tonic Co.), coffee from Oregon Coffee Guild members, and mouthwatering bites from five local eateries.

Drink enthusiast, entrepreneur and National Guard veteran Dawson Officer enlisted in the business of distilling in 2010. In commemoration of four of his fallen comrades from the Oregon National Guard Delta Co. 2-162 Infantry, Officer (real last name) launched 4 Spirits Distillery in Adair Village, Oregon, just outside of Corvallis.

The recent renaissance of absinthe as more than just the forbidden fruit of the spirits world has led to a number of Northwest interpretations (and yesterday’s National Absinthe Day). One addition to the category comes from Forest Grove, Oregon in the form of Dogwood Distilling’s Haint Absinthe, distilled from Willamette Valley Pinot Noir grapes.

Shrubs are a centuries-old bittersweet libation—built on the technique of preserving fruit by macerating it in a vinegar and sugar solution, straining out the solids and enjoying the tart-sweet concoction. They’ve made their way onto cocktail menus and store shelves, and are perfect for mixing simply with sparkling water for a low-octane refreshment, or into a cocktail, lending the drink a tart flavor.

Over in little Langley, Washington, Whidbey Island Distillery’s mission is to share the simple pleasures of island life “through spirits imbued with the character of the people and places that make Whidbey Island so special.” To that end, they’ve taken on the task of bottling the rich, luscious flavors of island berries in petite 46-proof bottles—and as it turns out, they do it incredibly well.

I love experimenting with different types of cuisine. But, while I wish I could say I know the secrets to making traditional style pho or the perfect sushi roll, I don’t. When it comes to Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai and other types of Asian cooking, the concept is (quite literally) foreign to me. However, one thing that’s great about the modern world is that you don’t have to necessarily adhere to traditions to make a delicious dish.

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