Business

Retail Tipsheet: Chuckanut distillery releases new bourbon

Co-owner and head distiller Matt Howell holds a glass of bourbon made at Chuckanut Bay Distillery in Bellingham. The distillery, located in the alley behind Rumors Cabaret at 1155 Railroad Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Co-owner and head distiller Matt Howell holds a glass of bourbon made at Chuckanut Bay Distillery in Bellingham. The distillery, located in the alley behind Rumors Cabaret at 1155 Railroad Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The Bellingham Herald

Making bourbon whiskey is a long process, but Matt Howell of Chuckanut Bay Distillery was ready for the challenge.

The distillery released its own concoction this week that should start showing up in stores like the Community Food Co-op and Haggen in the coming weeks.

The distillery, known for a variety of products including its potato vodka and gin, decided to create a bourbon that’s a little less sweet, Howell said. He changed the mixture by putting in less corn and more rye. The bourbon also has wheat and barley. Putting in too much corn makes it too sweet, he said, making it taste like alcoholic Coca-Cola.

“We wanted to make a bourbon that’s a little more complex,” he said.

It’s the latest product in what’s been a steadily growing two-year-old business, which is at 1115 Railroad Ave., in the alley behind Rumors Cabaret. Sales in 2015 have already exceeded all of 2014, even before the busy gift-buying season of November and December. Chuckanut Bay Distillery also just signed a distribution deal to sell products statewide.

The company’s production capacity is about maxed out, and the owners are looking to expand. Co-owner Kelly Andrews said the goal is to increase production levels tenfold in a bigger space.

It continues to be an interesting experience running the business, Howell said, particularly in navigating the changes to rules regarding craft distilleries in recent years. Sometimes it’s challenging to find a space that fits in the current zoning and permitting regulations, he said.

The distillery also has a tasting room that’s open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. After a lull this summer, interest in the tasting room is picking up again, Howell said. With the winter holidays arriving soon, the distillery is also getting ready for its annual release of Krampus, a liqueur that includes honey and roasted hazelnut flavors.

Further details about the company can be found at chuckanutbaydistillery.com.

OTHER TIDBITS

Dewey Griffin has filed a Bellingham building permit application to build a new Subaru car dealership at its current location, 1800 Iowa St. The new dealership would have 41,901 square feet of space on the main floor and 9,589 square feet on a second floor. Plans include a service repair and car wash area. ... Starbucks has submitted plans to remodel its cafe at 132 E. Holly St. Renovation work includes new finishes, equipment and furniture. ... The Firehouse Café announced on the Firehouse Performing Arts Center Facebook page that it is reopening soon. The operators of the cafe, which is at 1314 Harris Ave., are Kate and Aaron Walters. ... Mozza, the Italian restaurant at 410 W. Bakerview Road, has closed. ... Barbies Berries is now closed for the season when it comes to berry picking but will continue to have frozen products available, according to its Facebook page. ... The C Shop in Birch Bay is also getting ready to close for the season, with the last day Monday, Sept. 7. It’ll be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday and Monday and end the season with pony and horse-drawn carriage rides. The candy shop will do some online sales around the holidays, but the store itself will open back up in the spring. Details can be found at thecshop.com.

Reach Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BhamHeraldBiz and on Facebook at BellinghamHeraldBusiness.

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