A couple of weekends ago I went to Seattle to attend Proof Washington, hosted by the Washington Distiller's Guild and attended by 42 Washington and Oregon distilleries, plus what I'm guessing was close to a thousand spirit enthusiasts in one afternoon and one evening session.
This was the first event of its kind in Washington, and it comes about five years after that state saw some regulatory changes which resulted in a boom in new distilleries. At BC Distilled, besides our excitement to try so many local products in one place, we were keenly interested in seeing how this event was run. We're pretty sure Vancouver will see something similar, if on a smaller scale, on 2014.
The festival was held at The Foundry, in a mostly-industrial area south of the city. Besides the great selection of distillers, the room had plenty of other local treats, including a fine selection of chocolate and cheese makers, as well as tasty bites from local restaurants. They also loaded up on the water stations ... smart idea. There was even off sales, which was killing me, because my 24 hours in the US wasn't enough to give me any allowance to bring back alcohol. The border guard found it hard to believe I didn't have any booze when I told him where I'd been.
Beyond how well the event was run, what I was really struck by was the creativity I saw in the products. Some highlights include:
Sound Spirits - on top of their creative marketing, they produce a gin with malted barley as well as an aged gin. Really tasty and creative.
Bainbridge Organic Distillers - Their Organic Doug Fir Gin is very smooth and not too juniper-heavy. Perfect for a very dry martini. Their Battle Point Organic Whiskey was also a treat.
Dry Fly - One of the original Washington distillers showed up with some first class products, including a Triticale Whiskey and a Barrel Aged Gin (reusing their own whiskey barrels).
Wishkah River Distillery - Honey Vodka, Bulfinch 83 Unfiltered Gin, and Thirteen Corners Virgin Cask Whiskey … all great products.
These are the ones I can remember, but we tried many other amazing products, as well as some outstanding chocolate and cheese. I imagine next year will be even bigger and better. We'll be there.