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Chambers Bay Distillery mixes local flavors with unique twists

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One of the finest amenities of the 21st century is the wellspring of local distilleries. In University Place, Chambers Bay Distillery has been active since 2012. Owners Alan Davis and Jeff Robinette are looking to make the distillery a place that has a local flavor, but doesn’t rely on that flavor as its only draw.

“If we’re going to do this we’re not just going to be a craft distillery that has nothing more to offer than it's local. Everything has to be unique,” Davis said.

Chambers Bay Distillery’s first product is Ghost Dog Whiskey, a form of smoked ghost-pepper infused corn whiskey. The owners developed the drink as an alternative to Fireball whiskey, a spirit with a little bit of heat behind it.

“Ghost Dog was initially targeted at the Fireball crowd, something that has real heat and is a good whiskey, essentially high quality whiskey. It’s been popular with young males on one end and the fancier crowd at the other,” Davis said.

The distillery’s second product, launched in December of last year, is sweet bourbon called Greenhorn.

“We’ve always had a love for bourbon and we were talking about it for a while, kind of experimenting, looking for a sweeter version of a bourbon and that was kind of the impetus behind it,” Davis said.

In their quest to give their bourbon a unique twist, Davis and Robinette looked to the sea for some refreshing innovation.

“We’re aging it on a floating boathouse on the Sound. A lot of things effect aging – temperature changes, motion certainly can help, and there’s a lot of interaction between the spirit and barrel with the wood, which is where it gets its flavor. Because it was aged in a floating boathouse, our year and a half old bourbon tastes a lot older than that. It has something behind it in theory that it will expedite the aging process,” Davis said.

Not only is the bourbon aged directly on the Sound, but also uses a local wild yeast strain derived from fruit from the Curran Apple Orchard in University Place.

The distillery is planning to release a third spirit, a vodka named after the Norse god of the sea, Ran. The spirit will contain trace amounts of sea salt from the San Juan Islands. Davis expects the spirit to be ready in June.

“With a local hint of sea salt from the San Juan Islands, we found that it cuts the harshness of vodkas,” Davis said.

Chambers Bay Distillery will continue to focus on those three spirits, with another batch of bourbon being nearly aged to perfection by June.

“We set out not to be a ‘me too’ craft distillery, with nothing more to sell than the fact that we are local. We have a high bar for the spirits that we release, so we won’t have a ton of products but we hope that each will be unique, of high quality and desired,” Davis said.

Chambers Bay Distillery has a tasting room open Wednesday through Friday from 4-7 p.m. and Saturday from 2-7 p.m.

“As per state law we are allowed to serve half-ounce samples of our spirits (four per person per day). We currently offer half- ounce samples of Ghost Dog Whiskey and Greenhorn Bourbon, and we offer seven micro cocktails with the Ghost Dog Whiskey,” Davis said.

For more information on Chambers Bay Distillery, visit chambersbaydistillery.com.

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