While visiting distilleries is always the best way to meet the folks who craft your spirits, the Proof Washington Distillers Festival is the next best option for sampling spirits from dozens of distillers based in Washington and nearby states. Washington State has the most craft distilleries of any state in the U.S., and the Proof festival is the official event of the Washington Distillers Guild.
The event, now in its third year, is one night only–July 11that Fremont Studios (155 N. 35th Street in Seattle). Roughly three dozen distilleries have tables where you can sample their products and chat with representatives who are frequently the owners and distillers. Among the well-known distilleries attending are Westland, Captive Spirits, Sun Liquor, and Sound Spirits. But wait! There’s more: Over a dozen local restaurants–including 8oz. Burger & Co., Bluebird Ice Cream, Moshi Moshi, and Urbane, among others–will have food booths with small bites. If you’re looking for a little education, local cocktail celebrities Paul Clarke (Imbibemagazine), Amanda Reed (Tavern Law), and Andrew Friedman (Liberty) are presenting 45-minute classes during the event.
Last, and certainly not least, spirits from participating distillers will be for sale at the event. This is a pretty big deal as finding spirits from smaller distilleries at local stores can be a challenge, even in Washington State. And in contrast to prior years, you can now buy directly at the distiller’s booth, rather than waiting in line at a “store” area.
Tickets are $40 for general admission and $60 for VIP, which gets you in an hour earlier and includes additional drink tokens. I recommend the VIP pass and going early–it’s a bit less noisy during the VIP time, which makes it easier to have a relaxed conversation with your new distiller friends.