We have to leave our little burg most weekends to find fun places to go and things to do. Late January can be a challenge, so we hopped in the pick-up truck and drove toward Lake Chelan. Our usual wine tasting not on the agenda, we purchased cheese for a fondue party at Fromaggio’s in Manson, on the north side of Lake Chelan. While there, we were told about a new distillery on the south side of the lake: Blue Spirits Distillery. My husband’s eyes lit up; no question, we would pay them a visit.
Half an hour later we were quite intrigued by the tiny, white bungalow with the correct address for the distillery. It matched the description, but there wasn’t any parking to speak of and it seemed way too small to contain a business. Thankfully, Heidi Soehren was watching for us from the larger building on the opposite side of the street with plenty of parking. Bottling for a large tasting in Seattle’s U-District the next day, they were happy to show us around and do a tasting for us.
Opened July 2012 the products we saw and tasted were being hand bottled, labeled and sealed. Time consuming, back-breaking and detailed work at this point in the business’s short history, but professional. Jeff & Heidi Soehren, previously architect and interior designer respectively, recognized the water of Lake Chelan – the vast, glacially fed lake over which the charming bungalow is perched – as ideal for distilling spirits.
I am a light weight – I do not drink hard alcohol as I get a terrible headache from even a small amount. Knowing Jeff uses a proprietary process to ‘polish’ the ‘congeners’ from his spirits, I was curious to taste and then ‘feel’ the difference. Beginning with the Ultra Premium Vodka, at 88 Proof, I was intrigued: vodkas, whiskys including bourbon and rye, rum and tequila were all clean and crisp with smooth finishes. The flavored beverages are not treated due to the nature of flavoring – but they were still excellent tasting. Hubby agreed – and so did the surprise group of four that came in soon after we began our tastings – and found much to his liking. I had never tasted a whisky or whiskey of any type that made me excited to enjoy a glass of my own until we tasted the Kentucky Bourbon Whisky, a 4-year old warm whisky with a lovely hint of vanilla. Yes, this is actually Kentucky Bourbon as the original mash is sourced from Bourbon County Kentucky and aged in new oak barrels right there on the south shore of Lake Chelan.
Not a coffee drinker either, but my dear husband imbibes on weekends when he has time to brew a pot and savor it. Heidi is the coffee roaster, selling locally to various restaurants and shops. We came home with a bag of french roast beans for him to try. After a couple of weekends and an impromptu tasting when a few coffee-drinking friends came over one morning it is great tasting, but not as dark as most expected it to be in color. As an avid tea drinker, I know flavor is my gauge, not color. Small batches only, so not likely to compete with the likes of the big coffee shops around the country, but worth seeking out should you be in the area.
The Blue Spirits website has a page of recipes using each of the distilled offerings. We came home with a couple of bottles, so when we have friends over – and we are not drinking wine – we will mix up some fun cocktails. Check it out: http://http://www.bluespiritsdistilling.com