What do winter wheat, white oak, and a German Shepherd have in common? At Oola Distillery–a lot.
A few weeks ago, while out for a neighborhood stroll, we decided to stop in for a tasting at Oola, a craft distillery located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, and one of many micro-distilleries popping up all over the northwest. In fact, in Washington State alone (at this writing), there are more than 27 micro-distilleries.
However, Oola has the distinction of being located six blocks from our house. I’ve wanted to check out their spirits ever since the building, which formerly housed La Panzanella Bakery, was renovated and Oola took over the space. When I read that several of Oola’s products won gold medals in a spirits competitions, I decided the time to taste was now.
Tours are offered at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, or by appointment. I sent an email Kirby Kallas-Lewis, Oola’s owner and distiller, and made arrangements for a visit.
Oola puts the neighborhood in neighborhood distillery—from the ground up. The building remodel was designed by Capitol Hill architects, Graham Baba. Oola’s retail space is inviting, swathed—literally—floor to ceiling with warm wood. And lining the walls of the Oola’s production space, you’ll see wood in another form—casks—specifically American white oak casks. These are the casks where Oola’s bourbon and barrel finished gin are aged to smooth drinking perfection.
Oola’s spirits are relatively local as well, with organic white winter wheat sourced from Washington State. And many of the herbs used to imbue Oola’s spirits, with their to-die-for flavors, are grown right in Kallas-Lewis’s Capitol Hill backyard, like Tuscan Rosemary and Lemon Verbena. Oola is grain to glass, a Washington State progeny.
After learning a bit about how Oola spirits are made, we got down to the business of tasting. Here’s the line-up: OOLA Gin, Barrel Finished Gin, Waitsburg Bourbon Whiskey, OOLA Vodka, OOLA Citrus Vodka, OOLA Rosemary Vodka and OOLA Chili Pepper Vodka.
Waitsburg Bourbon was smooth, spicy, and buttery with a touch of sweetness–perfect for a winter warming Manhattan. Barrel Finished Gin tasted of juniper and other botanicals with a vanilla finish. All the vodkas were crisp and clean, the flavored vodkas highlighted by distinctive herbal notes.
Waitsburg Bourbon Whiskey (winner of the San Francisco World Spirits Competition Gold Medal) and the Barrel Finished Gin both made their way home with us. I was also quite fond of the Rosemary Vodka. Our tasting companions purchased a bottle of OOLA Chili Pepper Vodka and OOLA Citrus Vodka. There was something for everyone.
My review in a nutshell: OOLA-la! And this brings me back to the German Shepherd. When I asked Kirby where he got the inspiration for Oola’s moniker, he replied: From my dog, Oola, one awesome German Shepherd.
‘Tis the season to imbibe, so if you find yourself in the Seattle area, drop by for a visit. The sales room is open noon-8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. And give them a like on Facebook!
Oola Distillery, 1314 East Union Street, phone: 206-709-7909, email: email@example.com
Take the road less traveled, Beth
Check out more seasonal delights on Wanderfood Wednesday!