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“Distilling is an agricultural practice.”

Section 2, item 5 of Washington Substitute Senate Bill 6496, which, when enacted in May of 2008, made craft distilling in Washington state both legal and sanctioned, states this exact thing: “(5) Distilling is an agricultural practice.”

As I’ve been ramping up toward production over the last several months, this was the part that was easy to forget. All of the raising of money and looking at possible locations and filling out legal forms, trademark applications, copyright statements…it all made me start to  forget a little that at the heart of this whole project is taking raw agricultural products and transforming them, through simple science and complex art, into a delicious finished product.

Then along the way, I started to look for source ingredients. My goals were simple: get the best raw grains I could find from the closest source I could find them. And then, almost serendipitously, I found Eric Fritch and his Chinook Farms. You see, I was certain that I was going to have to go to Eastern Washington for my grains. And, honestly, Eastern Washington is an amazing grain-growing region. But then I found Chinook Farms. Not only are they growing grains on this side of the mountains, but they’re growing them just up the road in Snohomish! That’s just 17 miles from my house and barely more than 20 miles from downtown Seattle! And the grains are certified organic to boot.

Chinook Farms

Wheat field at Chinook Farms.

Combine harvesting soft white winter wheat

Combine harvesting a field of hard red winter wheat.

I’ve already committed to buying grain from Eric this year, and I believe that we’ll set up a relationship to source as much of the grain from him as possible for a long time to come. It’s part of my commitment to our “farm to cocktail” slogan, and I couldn’t be more happy at the prospect.

Eric was nice enough to invite me out for a WSU-sponsored field day at his farm a few weeks ago, and that’s when that little part of the law—five little words that almost seem like a tag-on upon first reading—really sunk in: “Distilling is an agricultural practice.” There it was, grain in the fields just waiting for harvest and for me to make it into something I love. And something I look forward to sharing with all of you.

More pictures from the farm…

Just-harvested hard red winter wheat

Just-harvested hard red winter wheat.

Rye, ready for harvest

Rye, ready for harvest.

Sunset on the farm.

Sunset on the farm.

Categories: Agriculture.

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One Response

  1. Yay, I’m glad you found him.

    You might be interested in attending the Friday Symposium at the farming conference we go to in November — this year the symposium is on grains for food, feed, & malt. I don’t think you’re quite the target audience, but lots of grain growers will be there, too …

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