As we were right next door, we hopped into Blue Flame Spirits Distillery before leaving Prosser. My hubby is quite fond of spirits, so this was a good stop for him. The owner, Brian Morton, was busy at the back of the distillery but made his way forward to spend a little time with us.
Having opened in 2009 with the premise that most of the ingredients for premium spirits were located within 45 miles of the distillery he has been around for the best part of Washington State’s craft distilling industry. The changes in Washington State liquor laws weren’t kind to small wineries, breweries or distilleries and Brian mentioned the struggle to stay open and viable as the transitions were implemented and adjusted throughout the state. Sourcing his grains from a local farmer, grape pomace from Col Solare’s Estate Vineyard, and Oregon oak barrels (grown and coopered) as well as local bulk wine and a variety of flavorings keeps transportation costs coming into the distillery to a minimum.
Half teaspoon pours into plastic pill cups, a different cup for each spirit, provided both of us a taste of what was available, which was but a small percentage of what this distillery does.
Lots of different spirits are made here, but only a few were left for sale after the holiday season. Some custom work for Washington wineries to fortify their Port-style wines without diluting the aroma and flavor, some general distillation of stripped, high alcohol spirits also for fortified wines, and two whiskey styles, gin, vodka, peppered vodka and brandy make up the bulk of what comes though this distillery.
We had Gin, which has a lovely aroma of citrus to it, I could have smelled it all day. Next was a wheat Whiskey with vanilla and spice aromas from the Oregon Oak Barrels. Lastly, and with the most conversation about it, was Grappa. Sweet smelling, not as rough as the previous to in my mouth, the Grappa was my favorite. Brian explained that he tours the vineyard to taste the skins of the grapes as they mature; the flesh and seeds don’t matter so he spits them out and rolls the skins around in his mouth to break down the cells and feel the tannins as well as experience the flavors. We discussed terroir at length as the soil, climate, and canopy come through to him in the skins, assisting his choice of grape pomace for the Grappa. It takes a year and five distillations to make this beverage which is clear (young, unoaked), slightly aromatic and, in this case, 40 Proof.
Two years ago we were at Lake Chelan and happened upon a fairly new distillery that I wrote about; once school is out and I am back on the road more often I am sure we will seek out other Washington distilleries to explore.