“We are proud to have developed the first certified Salmon-Safe whiskey in the country, because it demonstrates that an excellent whiskey can be produced using environmentally friendly agricultural practices without affecting the price or the quality of the product”, said Jason Parker, co-founder and president. by Copperworks Distilling Co.
The whiskey from the Alaskan Way site is made from a single variety of malted barley sourced from a Salmon-Safe family farm in Walla Walla, which means it has a number of practices in place. land management to protect water quality and wildlife habitat for our native fish. indicator species.
Parker and Micah Nutt, friends who have brewed together since the early ’90s, realized that a good brew could be the start of great spirits. In 2010, they distilled some of their homebrew on a pilot system and found it tasted delicious – and also very different from traditional whiskey.
Fast forward to 2011, when the couple formed the distillery with the intention of producing high quality craft beer (no hops) and then distilling it into premium spirits. They ordered four handcrafted copper stills from Forsyths, Scotland’s leading still maker (these stills were built specifically for the Copperworks distillation process and the spirits they intended to produce).
In 2013, Copperworks opened its distillery, tasting room and retail store on Seattle’s waterfront. Since then, the company’s spirits have won several local, national and international awards, and were named “Distillery of the Year” in 2018 by the American Distilling Institute.
Quality and taste accolades aside, Parker stressed the importance of creating “the country’s first salmon-safe whiskey.”
âSalmon-Safe is a certification that farmers, wineries, campuses and other lands can qualify for if they demonstrate a commitment to protecting water, biodiversity and good farming management,â he said. -he declares. âThe mission of the Salmon-Safe certification process is to transform land management practices so that Pacific salmon can thrive in West Coast watersheds. “
“For farms located near salmon habitat, the Salmon-Safe certification indicates that the farm uses practices that protect the stream, water quality, biodiversity and the overall health of the land. These protections, in turn, protect the salmon living in these waterways, “he continued. “In the case of distilleries, when a farm grows barley on a Salmon-Safe certified field and a distiller uses that barley to produce their whiskey, the distiller can classify the whiskey as Salmon-Safe.”
Parker said that such practices supporting environmental protection and promoting strong communities are a fundamental part of the Copperworks philosophy. They are dedicated to minimizing water consumption, energy consumption and waste generation throughout their operations, and they have focused on partnering with smallholder farmers and the use and promotion of cultivated malts. locally.
Other examples of Copperworks’ sustainable business practices include their copper stills heated by energy produced from a sustainable, non-fossil fuel source called “biomass” (essentially clean wood waste), which is renewable. and does not add new carbon to the atmosphere. . Copperworks installed a 500 gallon cooling tower above its waterfront location to minimize water consumption in its distillation process. The tower allows them to recirculate and reuse the same 500 gallons of water to produce each batch of spirits in a continuous loop, dramatically reducing the amount of water required by the distillation processes.
When asked about some of the biggest challenges of running his business, Parker said it was worth noting that producing Copperworks Salmon-Safe Certified Whiskey was no different than producing their other whiskeys.
âThe brewing, distillation and barrel aging processes are the same,â he said. âThe difference is in barely using the certified Salmon-Safe product. This validates our original theory that good whiskey can be produced using environmentally friendly farming practices without affecting the price or quality of the product. “
Fortunately, they aren’t the only ones taking action to protect water quality and wildlife habitat in Puget Sound’s tributaries.
âThere are many farms, vineyards, wineries, breweries, golf courses and other Salmon-Safe certified projects, and we hope that number will continue to grow,â Parker said.
“We hope our certified Salmon-Safe whiskey will raise awareness in the distiller community, and beyond that there is an opportunity to produce great whiskey while protecting and enhancing the environment.”