But if you want to experience the true PNW, then you owe it to your taste buds to visit Skip Rock Distillers in Snohomish, Washington.
The distillery occupies a century-old brick building in downtown Snohomish, home to a tasting room/bar and their towering copper distillery and racks of wooden barrels for aging their handcrafted spirits downstairs.
As mentioned, their ingredients are sourced locally — many of them coming from a less-than-twenty mile radius. Jonagold apples from Sultan, raspberries and potatoes from Mount Vernon and grain from Eastern Washington. They even salvage raw walnuts from local yards (it seems raw walnuts are hard to buy on a commercial/bulk basis).
The craftsmen at Skip Rock are always concocting new recipes and trying out novel ingredients. They’re also working on batches, tasting and working out ratios on spreadsheets to make sure each in-house batch turns out fresh, tasty and ready for the bottle.
When we visited, the distillers showed us a large vat of percolating rum made from turbinado sugar. The booze-in-process was gurgling — fed by an internal current as the yeasts of fermentation respirated and fed carbon dioxide to the surface of the container.
I had to have a sip.
For five dollars you can try a sample of four different spirits (this is the equivalent, alcohol-wise, of drinking a single beer). I tried barrel-aged rye, raspberry and walnut liqueurs, and a smooth gin. Four varieties of tasty, sweet booze — each burning pleasantly on the palate.
In talking with the fine artisans of Skip Rock I began to realize that Snohomish, Washington is a small ecosystem of self-contained agricultural best practices. Skip Rock drinks are served at the farm-to-table restaurant Roger’s River View Bistro just down the street, as well as a taphouse named Fred’s, and the upscale house-turned-restaurant The Cabbage Patch.
Skip Rock also sells honey courtesy of Snohomish Bee Company aged in whiskey barrels.
It becomes apparent the longer I spend time in this charming riverside redbrick downtown that Snohomish, antique capital of Washington State, is a place where you can really taste local agriculture prepared in a variety of foods and beverages.
I’ll drink to that.
Skip Rock Distillers
104 Ave C, Snohomish, WA 98290
Hours: Mon - Sat from 11am to 5 pm