simply put, Kim Karrick and Scratch Distillery’s story is
How We Began
Bryan Karrick tells the story of Scratch Distillery in two sentences: “A creative gin nerd with an amazing sense of smell and taste opens a distillery. The end.”
It was the start of 2013 when the Karricks decided to open the distillery in their Edmonds community. Distilling began in April 2015 on-location at the newly renovated Salish Crossing.
The doors officially opened on July 10, 2015 without fanfare, but traffic soon began to pickup inside the beautiful tasting room. Since, the distillery has grown quickly and steadily.
Scratch Distillery features 11 products, including gin, vodkas, infused vodkas, and German bier schnaps.
Kim Karrick came about “bier schnaps” when she discovered that her mash brewing equipment would not be arriving as planned in April 2015. Left with only distilling equipment, she visited with her neighbors at America Brewing Company and they asked what sort of magic she could do with 1600 gallons of Breakaway IPA that did not meet their standard for carbonation level but still had the perfect Breakaway IPA flavor.
Kim knew that distilling beer is a tradition in Germany and Austria, so she researched and started distilling IPA within a week. It was a true labor of love for Kim that required constant monitoring and tinkering. The Barrel Finished Breakaway Spirit (Bier Schnaps) has been a hit. Half of the spirit is stored in old Bourbon barrels and the other half is stored in old Rye barrels, each for 3 months.
But, Breakaway Spirit was not the first use of the equipment. Kim originally worked at Sparkman Cellars in Woodinville prior to opening her distillery. She says, “among the many gifts that I have received from the Sparkmans was my first distillate”. Sparkman Cellars kept 300 gallons of their Sauvignon Blanc on hold for Kim to use as her initial product, Grape-Based Vodka. When word got out of Kim’s readiness to distill but the delay on some of her equipment, the Karricks’ friends at Dusted Valley also helped with their gift of 300 gallons of Rosé, also made into Grape-Based Vodka.
For flavored vodkas and gin, the Karricks use the “Gin Basket” or infusion method. This is the method where vodka is distilled and the vapors push through and mingle with the botanicals that are placed in a “basket” within the distilling conduit. Bryan Karrick says they use this method because it is the best way to bring the flavors through from more gentle botanicals like elderflower and fresh citrus.
Scratch Distillery only uses organic, Non-GMO products. The wheat and other grains come from Fairhaven Organic in Skagit Valley, the potatoes come from Warden, WA, and the botanicals come from near (as close as the balcony) and far.
Kim Karrick’s excitement about gin development and its complexity is why she started the GINiology program. We have distilled 30 different botanicals that are used in Gin, each separately, so that they can then help individuals improve their GINtelligence, and develop their own Gin creation, and take it home in their Scratch Custom Gin bottle, that night.
It was a lot of work for Kim to design, but it is quickly becoming popular. GINiology is a unique program. It is a history lesson, distilling overview, review of popular gin ingredients and a flavor profile for each of them. The participants are then counseled while they taste and smell the various botanicals and formulate their own gin recipe. It is a very rewarding event.
Scratch Distillery is open Thursdays through Sundays. GINiology class reservations can be made by emailing the distillery.
Kim has used her brewing experience to explore a less common mash bill for our first Whiskey. It uses a European grain recipe – spelt, millet, and soft white winter wheat. Whiskey production started in December 2015 and the first bottles of Whiskey are anticipated by late 2017.
Asked what Gin Equals Love means, pointing to the moniker painted on a wall 14 feet tall in the tasting room. Kim says, “That represents our story in more than one way: We believe that you cannot make a great Gin unless you truly love Gin; Gin takes a lot of time and loving-care to create the perfect spirit; and Bryan initiated our love story in 1987 by making me a Gin & Tonic on the first sunny spring day at Michigan State University.” Bryan denies and laughs, “I don’t recall that- alcohol is not allowed on campus at MSU!”
You cannot make a great Gin unless you truly love it; Gin takes a lot of time and loving-care to creat the perfect spirit.