2bar Spirits: A taste of Texas distilled in downtown Seattle
“We’re the first craft distillery to make bourbon in Seattle,” head distiller Maddie Kelly told us as we stepped into 2bar Spirits distillery located just blocks away from downtown.
Not only that but they do it in a way that mixes its Texan and Scottish influences.
2bar Spirits traces its routes to a ranch in rural Texas run by the founder, Nathan Kaiser’s, family for six generations since the late 1800s. Nathan grew up on the ranch with stories of relatives bootlegging moonshine. After moving to Seattle, he wanted to keep the family tradition alive and opened 2bar Spirits in 2012.
They’re a very traditional distillery making everything from scratch, which reflects the work ethic and ethos of its namesake ranch. Maddie’s day starts by milling 1,000 lbs of grain every single morning.
She’s one of the few female head distillers in the country.
“One of the unique things about 2bar is that we are an entirely grain-to-glass distillery, which means we start the morning by milling grain and we finish the process through aging and bottling on site,” Maddie said.
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2bar replicates the process of some of the finest scotch whiskeys.
“Our bourbon does differ from other bourbons from around the country quite a bit,” Maddie said. “In Seattle, we have this huge amount of local breweries which means we have great malt available to us that’s local, grown in Washington, so our bourbon is heavily malted. Although as a bourbon its majority corn, we have a lot of malt in that minority 49 percent.”
One other difference is that they lauter the mash, which means they’re fermenting off the grain — it’s a process seen more commonly in Scotland.
2bar only makes whiskey. Or more precisely, their entire product lineup consists of only two whiskeys.
“We want to do what we do very well,” Maddie told us.
They offer a moonshine whiskey that harkens back to the Texas ranch during Prohibition: “It’s a fun whiskey. It’s really good in cocktails, it’s very versatile.”
The second product is their bourbon: “What we focus on more than anything is our bourbon. Focusing on those two whiskeys means our bourbon especially has gotten better over time. We’re not only able to get the quality really pinned down on the production side but we’re also able to age each batch a little bit longer. We’re seeing the results of that. The whiskey is very well balanced.”
What’s in the box:
2bar Moonshine is a bit of a family tradition. Made using all Northwest grains; it is a traditional unaged corn whiskey with the sweet corn notes. A great sipping or mixing whiskey, it’s a favorite with ice or in a Moscow (or Moonshine) Mule.
2bar Bourbon is the first all local made in Seattle bourbon; made entirely grain-to-glass using all Northwest grains. It has a smooth and rich texture at 100 Proof with wonderful butterscotch, vanilla and honey notes with subtle hints of dark chocolate and cherry.