Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dry Fly distillery bill becomes law

Posted on Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 3:43 PM

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law today a bill that tripled the amount of spirits a craft distillery can produce in Washington. The bill, championed by Sen. Chris Marr (D-Spokane) was aimed mostly at Spokane's Dry Fly Distillery, which produces gin, vodka and whiskey in an industrial space near Gonzaga. 

Spirits were high at the distillery this afternoon. Asked for a comment, co-owner Kent Flesichmann — hands covered in mash — said, "How about 'yahoo'?" 

"'Hell yeah.' That's our comment," said another co-owner, Don Poffenroth. "We worked hard getting that done and Chris Marr was gracious enough to help us once again." Marr also authored the state's first craft distillery law, in 2007. This one raises the amount distilleries are allowed to produce from 20,000 gallons per year to 60,000. Poffenroth says last year they produced about 12,000 gallons and were worried they'd be brushing up against the old ceiling this year. Thus, their lobbying for this new legislation.

“We needed to do something,” Marr said in a press release this afternoon. “Here we’ve got a local success story exceeding all expectations and other distilleries popping up in other communities. We need to get out of the way and let them grow.”

The new law also allows craft distilleries to contract their services out to agricultural producers. A farmer might provide their own grain, says Poffenroth, go to Dry Fly to distill it, then head back to the farm for bonding and aging before returning to Dry Fly for bottling. (This booze would be included in the distillery's 60,000-gallon limit.)

"We have one farmer out of Colfax we're working with right now on an Irish-style whiskey," Poffenroth says.

Another periodic release of Dry Fly's own whiskey on Saturday went like a flash — some 65 cases of the stuff disappeared in two hours.

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