The tagline describes the distillery’s original principle and reason for existing. Making a product “From Scratch” is not commonly done in the distilling industry, but it can make an amazing difference in the end product’s quality. Gin production highlights this assertion: That tenacious attention during the entire craft process takes a great amount of love, in order to create an epic product. You have to love it, to do it better. Scratch Distillery’s gin is truly hand-made, batch by batch.
When Scratch Distillery owners Bryan and Kim Karrick entered the spirit production industry, they knew that making Craft Spirits from Scratch was not only the more difficult way to produce their gin and other spirits, but the more costly method as well. Using local, non-GMO, organic wheat from Skagit Valley, they make their own mash that they then distill into vodka, gin and other spirits.
The couple believes that organic and local is very important to a sustainable economic culture in Western Washington. They even shop for produce at the local PCC Market in Edmonds, in order to keep to their organic standard for ingredients.
Scratch also offers a GINiology class, where guests make their own blend of gin. In this venue, Gin Equals Love refers to the fact that when one puts great care into their process, the result is gin that they will love. A bonus is that class members blend their gin together for an awesome evening.
Scratch has developed 13 products — all in a relatively short time. The flagship product is gin at Edmonds’ Salish Crossing distillery, but vodkas, infused vodkas, whiskey, and German bier schnapps all have their loyal followers.
Kim Karrick has used her brewing experience to explore a less common mash bill for Scratch Distillery’s first whiskey. It uses a European grain recipe — organic spelt, millet and soft white winter wheat, along with some malted barley.
“It is a tribute to my heritage,” she said, “and I love this mash combination: the honey and caramel flavors, and almost a banana finish. It is a complex, nuanced and approachable whiskey.” Whiskey production started in December 2015 and the first bottles of whiskey are anticipated in January 2018.
I had the honor of taking a sip of a small batch from a tiny wooden keg, My reaction: Wow! This will only get better, so get your name on the list for a bottle, ASAP.
The Karricks use the “gin basket” or infusion method for their gin production. This is the method where vodka is distilled and the vapors push through, and mingle with the botanicals that are placed in a “basket” within the distilling conduit. This is quite different than the more common maceration method, where ingredients are soaked in vodka then distilled.
“The infusion method is a method of gin production that offers the best way of extracting flavors from more gentle botanicals like elderflower and fresh citrus,” said Bryan Karrick. “Think of maceration as boiling vegetables and infusion as steaming them.”
Scratch Distillery uses the same infusion method for their flavored vodkas. “This method may not create big bold flavors, but it produces complex essences and those flavors are stable over time, without decay, discoloration or sedimentation,” Bryan explained. “These products are used best as martinis, or with minimal other ingredients.”
How did Kim Karrick make the leap from home brewing and working in the wine industry to becoming the distiller at her own distillery? According to Bryan: “Kim really has a gift with her senses of smell and taste. But that only gets you so far. She has a great business mind, and the energy and optimism that a start-up entrepreneur must have!”
Added Kim: “I love creating something that I am passionate about and then sharing it with like-minded enthusiasts. My time in the tasting room with customers is always really fun!”
I had a preview of the GINiology class, and was almost overwhelmed by the detail Bryan described. My advice — attend a class when you can. You will discover the “why’s” of their process and enjoy the fruits of their labors, sip by sip.
Scratch Distillery is open Thursdays through Sundays. GINiology class reservations can be made on the website reservation system, or by emailing the distillery. For more information: www.scratchdistillery.com or www.giniology.com.
— By Kathy Passage