Orcas Island is joining in the Renaissance movement of small-craft liquor production.
Long-time island residents Charlie West and Carie DeRuiter are excited to be launching a boutique distillery.
“Since the end of prohibition in the 1930s, distilling has been in the hands of major producers,” West said. “The result has been consistent but relatively bland products with little diversity. In the short time that craft distillers have been in the market, the diversity of high quality, flavorful products has blossomed.”
The venture is something entirely new for West, who previously produced outdoor television programs for major networks. He says the learning curve is “exciting.”
Orcas Island Distillery’s initial products are an apple brandy Eau de Vie, pear brandy and a Genever- style gin. In the works for a future release date are an aged apple brandy and single malt scotch.
All products are distilled in West’s barn, made from wood milled from his property and use locally grown grains and fruit from historic Orcas orchards.
This fall’s fruit harvesting was aided by friends and family who volunteered their time.
“On Orcas there’s a wonderful variety of heirloom fruits and locally grown farm products that are of no interest to major producers, but offer unique and delicious flavors,” West said.
The distillery’s products are for sale at the Orcas Liquor Store and Orcas Village Store and served at Inn at Ship’s Bay. To visit the distillery, call 376-7077. For more info search Orcas Island Distillery on Facebook.