For years, Temple Distilling was sort of like a speakeasy.
It’s tucked away in an anonymous strip mall in the city of Lynnwood, just north of Seattle. It didn’t always have a street-facing sign. Like many of the best places to visit, it was a word-of-mouth, locals-only, mom-and-pop type of operation. Owners AJ and Jamie Temple worked for the love of their craft.
They mostly flew under the radar. And yet…
The Canadian tourists began to come, driving all the way from Vancouver to pick up several bottles. Temple’s gins began to win national awards and blind taste tests. And then there were all those beautiful Temple bottles on the shelves of select grocery stores, each glass receptacle a work of art.
You know when people do something they love really well and they make it look easy?
Things were looking up for Temple Distilling. Then coronavirus came to town.
March 2020: Coronavirus shut down the tasting room. AJ and Jamie still had to pay rent on their brick-and-mortar space, but without the financial benefit of tastings and events.
The Temples wondered – <deleted> Was there enough to stay afloat? Enough distribution? Enough online sales? Could their small business, like so many other small businesses during the pandemic, survive an economic downturn? AJ often jokes “We sell our Chapter One gin, if things go bad I can just add a 1 and discount the rest as Chapter Eleven”.
But then, how could AJ Temple do anything other than make gin? He had been interested in the culinary arts since he was five years old. He had become interested in distilling gin while on a tour of England, age twelve. For years it had been a running joke – well, I can always quit my job and make gin.
And then he actually did.
After ten years of working in the auto industry, feeling burned out, AJ took the leap and started making gin in earnest. He began to source botanicals from around the globe – Tuscany, North Africa, and Indonesia. The magic began.
(Don’t gin to gin? AJ Temple suggests that you probably do, you just haven’t tried the right one yet. There are many delightful flavors to choose from, as determined by each batches botanicals.)
In the end, coronavirus didn’t end Temple Distilling. Like so many small but resilient businesses, the Temples adapted. The husband-and-wife duo saw the pandemic as an opportunity: they remodeled their tasting room, knocking out a wall, adding windows to view the stills, and expanding the bar with a larger granite top.
They also began distilling large batches of hand sanitizer. The Washington State Health Department bought one thousand gallons of this hand sanitizer and distributed it to migrant workers and residents in adult family homes.
The Temples also began to focus on their online sales, adding new gins, tasting kits, and our limoncello that tastes like Spring backyard chill time in a bottle.
The speakeasy days are over. When Temple Distilling reopens in late spring 2021 it will be ready to truly make a splash in the Pacific Northwest.
The Temple brand story is built around the idea of a narrative, from their Chapter One Gin (“begin here”) to their Constant Reader (a Stephen King reference). The Temples are avid bookworms. Their brand suggests there’s a larger story being written with their products. An epic novel, maybe. AJ says “I like gin so much I wrote a book on it. Seriously, we have copies in the tasting room and on Amazon. Check it out!”.
The next chapter of Temple Distilling is being written. It’s a story being told batch by batch, carefully, with love and attention. You can taste the dedication that goes into each bottle of Temple gin.
We’ll drink to that.