Dry Fly Distilling in Spokane, Wash.

Former fishermen created Washington state's first distillery in nearly a century.

Stills at Dry Fly Distilling, Spokane, Wash., image

Dry Fly’s towering stills turn fermented grains into gin, vodka, and whiskey.

Avid anglers Kent Fleischmann and Don Poffenroth were looping lines out over Montana’s Gallatin River when they cooked up the idea for Dry Fly Distilling. It’s Washington’s first distillery since Prohibition—and the pair knew they were on to something when in 2008 their first batch of whiskey sold out in an hour and a half.

Now, each year they see 6,000 cases of vodka, gin, and whiskey through from “grain to glass,” as Fleischmann puts it. Dominating the distillery on Riverwalk Plaza in Spokane are two gleaming 450-liter, copper-and-steel stills, like giant piccolos standing on end.

Nearby, at the tasting table, Fleischmann pours sips for visitors who walk in: a vodka with a clean taste of butterscotch and vanilla and an amazingly fragrant gin. The partners buy soft winter wheat from a century-old eastern Washington farm and turn to other local suppliers for botanicals—juniper, apple, coriander, lavender, mint, and hops—that contribute flavor accents to the gin.

The distillers can boast that their vodka took double gold at the 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. “It’s like winning best picture,” Fleischmann says, “a big deal for two trout bums who went up against the big guys.” The gin and vodka sell for $30 a bottle, the wheat whiskey $50. (509) 489-2112, dryflydistilling.com.

Photography by Andrew Geiger

This article was first published in May 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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