WESTLAND DISTILLERY It looks more like an architecture firm’s gift shop than a distillery. As for the flavor of their whiskey, imagine lightly burning your mouth on a hot chocolate-chip cookie.
What to do, as bitter weather casts a gloom over the entire city? Drink, naturally. Since Washington began licensing craft distilleries in 2008, the local industry has exploded—more than 100 new booze-makers are now among us. Most distillers allow you to sample their booze for free and buy anything you like on-site, perfect for gifts or for filling up a flask as you face the ghastly prospect of holiday shopping. Of the local distilleries I've visited recently, these were the best products I tried so far.
Tucked away on an industrial avenue in the neighborhood for which it's named, Old Ballard Liquor Co. is a one-woman operation. Owner and distiller Lexi (who mysteriously refuses to reveal her last name to press) welcomes a steady trickle of guests to her little warehouse three days a week with plenty of sass and a generosity of information and attention. Within minutes of eloquently and engagingly explaining the colossal difference between raspberry-infused vodka and vodka distilled from raspberries, the distiller also goes on a tangent about her obscure dream of a Japanese-Swedish food-fusion concept. Lexi lived in Sweden for long enough to develop an affinity for the culture and culinary traditions, extending to her latest project (and my favorite of the selection sampled)...