Monday, February 22, 2010

Make more gin

Posted on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 4:17 PM

Sometimes, Spokane produces heroes. For instance, Spokane’s state Sen. Chris Marr gave us the state’s first craft distillery law in 2007. That law defined a craft distillery as one that uses Washington-grown materials for at least half of the ingredients used to make the liquor. That law gave us Spokane’s very own Dry Fly Distilling. That law’s awesome.

Which is why Marr’s a hero.

But even heroes have faults. The same law that gave us Dry Fly (as well as Ellensburg Distillery and Soft Tail Spirits in Woodinville) limits the amount of alcohol the stills can produce to 20,000 gallons a year.

Recognizing this flaw, Marr has set out to improve his two-year-old law this legislative session with Senate Bill 6485, which would raise the allowable annual limit to 60,000 gallons. That would make about 5.1 million shots — more than one shot for every man, woman and child in the state.

“In the next couple of years, we’re probably going to push that number,” says Pat Donovan, distiller at Dry Fly. “We don’t want that [limit] to be the only restriction on us.”

In 2008, Dry Fly produced about 2,500 cases of spirits, or about 5,000 gallons. Last year, they doubled that.

“We probably won’t double it again this year,” Donovan says. “But you never know.”

But Donovan is happy to have the law clarified a little. When the original 20,000-gallon limit was decided upon, it was mainly to appease the guideline-thirsty state liquor control board. Another number Donovan would like changed is the 51 percent benchmark for state-grown ingredients.

“We’re about 99 percent Washington grown,” he says. “We actually wanted [the percentage in the law] to be much higher.”

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