Hawk and Suzy Pingree are the driving force behind the San Juan Islands Distillery
San Juan Island Distillery and Westcott Bay Cider “Fire in the hole!” rings out in the misty afternoon, followed by a loud bang blasting from the miniature cannon manned by Hawk Pingree, one of the three partners of the San Juan Islands Distillery in Roche Harbor. A round of applause follows as the proud buyer of a bottle of Spy Hop Harvest Select Navy Strength Gin swipes his credit card in the Square card reader, a big grin on his face. There’s a story behind that particular gin, just as there are stories behind every bottle of spirits and cider at the Distillery and Westcott Bay Cider. With climate conditions identical 34
Passion Distilled By Susan Colby
to those of Normandy, France where farmers produce traditional hard ciders and the fine French brandy called Calvados, the island is a natural home for the burgeoning boutique hard cider industry. Hard cider, called cider in Britain, cidre in France and sidre in Spain, had all but disappeared from the American beverage scene until a little over 15 years ago. Since then, several ciderworks, including Westcott Bay Cider, which is the second oldest cidery in Washington, have resurrected the fine art and the general public is slowly becoming aware of this refreshing alternative to beer.
When Suzy and Hawk, retired communications professors from Wisconsin visited France on sabbatical, they developed a taste for Calvados, a mature apple brandy. While visiting Suzy’s sister on San Juan Island several years ago, they happened upon Richard Anderson’s apple orchard and immediately said, “Why isn’t that guy making apple brandy with those beautiful apples?” And the rest, as they say, is history. Calvados is the reason behind the distillery, but brandy needs a minimum of three years to age. The first batch is being carefully taste-tested periodically The Kenmore Air Destination Magazine
Summer 2013 issue of HARBORS Magazine, the Kenmore Air Destination Magazine