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Our Story

Chuckanut Bay Distillery began in 2011, the brainchild of Matt Howell and Kelly Andrews, longtime friends who share a passion for premium distilled spirits and challenging, costly projects.

After identifying a downtown Bellingham location, we set about obtaining the necessary federal, state, and local permits, building out the space, and procuring the necessary equipment. Two long years later, in late 2013, we debuted our first spirit, a potato vodka made from Skagit Valley grown Yukon Gold potatoes.

Since then, we’ve broadened our spirit selection to include eight additional products, won national and international awards, and enjoyed ourselves immensely throughout the process.

We’re proud to count ourselves among the growing number of pioneering Washington craft distilleries. We look forward to continuing to grow Chuckanut Bay Distillery over the coming years, all the while remaining singularly focused on producing the highest quality, slow-crafted spirits available anywhere in the world.

Our Philosophy

Craft distilling as an enterprise is exploding, with new distilleries popping up seemingly every week. But all craft distilleries do not operate in the same way, and the term “craft distilling” is not as strictly defined as consumers might believe.

Consider the following example:

Distiller A purchases grain neutral spirits from a multi-billion dollar commodity vendor, runs it through a charcoal filter, then bottles it and calls it “craft vodka.” Meanwhile, Distiller B sources wheat from a local farm, grinds it, mashes it, ferments it, distills it several times, filters and bottles it, yet still must use the same term to describe his product: “craft vodka.”

To be certain, the process and expense of making these two products are vastly dissimilar, as is the end result. But this nuance often gets lost in the marketplace for all but the most discerning customers.

We at Chuckanut Bay Distillery think that craft distilling is something more than just a marketing exercise. Stated unequivocally: we do not work with industrially purchased grain neutral spirits for any of our products – period. Nor do we purchase already-aged whiskey or bourbon from elsewhere to bottle under our brand name as is often the case for other craft distillers. Every spirit we produce begins life as an agricultural product, nearly all of which is grown within 30 miles of our distillery. We pick it up from the farmer, grind and mash it, and we ferment it right here on site. We distill our spirits painstakingly, taking only the hearts and cutting out the heads and tails. There are no shortcuts taken, no technical loopholes exploited. We call our process “slow crafting” to differentiate it from the alternative.

Why do we do it this way? Our accountant will tell you it certainly isn’t the most lucrative way to run a distillery. It’s simple: we love and respect the tradition of this age-old process, and we believe it results in a superior spirit. Every time.

If you share this philosophy, we think you’ll appreciate what we do and how we do it. And most importantly, we think you’ll love our spirit.

MULTIPLE AWARDS

AND JUST TO THINK, IT ALL BEGAN WITH 13,000 POUNDS OF LOCALLY GROWN YUKON GOLD POTATOES AND AN INORDINATE AMOUNT OF TIME ON AN OLD BICYCLE.