GIN’S THE THING at
SCRATCH DISTILLERY WRITTEN & PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARGARETT WATERBURY
or distiller Kim Karrick, gin is far from an afterthought. It’s a painter’s palette, a playground, and a poignant reminder of an important moment in time decades past. “I first met my husband, Bryan, when he handed me a gin and tonic in 1987 at Michigan State University,” she laughs. “And now, here we are.” Scratch Distillery in Edmonds, Washington, is the first distillery to call this north-of-Seattle community home. Since opening in 2015, co-owners Kim and Bryan Karrick have transformed a former grocery store into a craft spirits outpost specializing in grain-toglass (or, in one case, tuber-to-glass) spirits, with a particular focus on gin and vodka. Before starting Scratch, Kim worked in the wine industry. Her sense of smell was so acute that her colleagues would routinely ask for her help in nosing cases of wine before events to make sure none of the bottles were corked. “Kim has a really incredible palate,” says Bryan. “I joke that she has dog smell.” But it wasn’t all about wine. Kim loved gin, too, and on a trip to London in 2013, she made time to visit a few new gin distilleries. “I was fascinated by gin’s endlessness,” says Kim. “There are so many possible combinations.” At one distillery, she picked up a copy of Artisan Spirit, and the notion that this was something she could actually do herself was planted in her mind. Kim poured herself into her new interest, taking classes and workshops while she and Bryan searched for a suitable location. Many startup distilleries struggle to find a space that will meet code, suit their needs, and offer a steady stream of consumer
traffic, so the Karricks braced for a long, arduous search. Fortuitously, a local developer had recently begun to divide and redevelop an old Safeway on Edmonds’ waterfront, not far from the ferry dock. High existing ceilings, appropriate zoning, and ample parking made it an ideal location for the distillery. They took the plunge, signed the lease, and ordered their equipment. The architectural vernacular of the old Safeway is still evident from outside, where the gently arched entrance and surprisingly large parking lot give the building’s previous life away. Yet inside, neither Scratch Distilling nor any of the other businesses that share the building feel anything like a grocery store. A full-scale retrofit, including an expansive tasting room with a U-shaped bar, extra seating space, and a hexagonal design scheme makes Scratch Distilling feel like a hip restaurant, complete with backlit bar. Gin and vodka are the primary focus at Scratch and, as the name suggests, everything, even the gin base, is made in-house. Kim makes three different vodkas, each from a different material and offering a different flavor profile: wheat, sauvignon blanc wine, and potatoes, all grown in Washington. The potato vodka is the sweetest and softest of the bunch, while the wheat offers gentle heat and a slightly caramelized flavor. The grape-based vodka is crisp, with a slightly acidic tang. All are unfiltered. “Filtering takes away the body, takes away the character,” says Kim “I have a filter collecting dust in the storage room.” Scratch also makes three vapor-infused gins: a Martini Style WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
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