At 496 square feet, Nightside Distillery claims the title of “America’s Smallest Distillery” and it’s located in a town of just over 11,000 people, Edgewood, Washington. But nothing else is little here. The owners have excessively huge hearts, the distillers make big flavors and their concept continues to develop.
Seven partners, who all have full-time jobs in addition to working at the distillery, all have a say in what happens. Two work as Federal Way police officers, one supervises at a 911 office, one owns a construction company and holds a fire commissioner seat, one is retired and Tom Greene labors as a longshoreman out of Seattle.
Greene also enjoys distilling in his off-hours and agreed to give our readers a few more details about why Nightside Distillery is one to watch.
1) Why did you and your partners decide to open a microdistillery in Edgewood?
The award-winning water here is pure, untreated and comes straight from the aquifer. No filtration is needed. Even though, the water adds a touch of minerality to our neutral, that’s OK because of its great taste. Almost every other distillery, no matter how much they brag about their water, processes it to a point where there’s no distinction between theirs, distilled or reverse osmosis filtration.
2) How did your interest in distilling begin?
By making apple pie vodka. I love it when people taste my creations and absolutely love them. I started blending and creating apple pie vodka in 2006. I had fun refining my recipe. Family, friends and co-workers were always asking for some, so I made a lot of it. These tasters also offered input on how I could make it better so every batch changed a little until I nailed what I believe is the perfect apple pie.
3) How does your product line set you apart from other distilleries?
We have a different take on vodka, we call Whodka, it’s barrel-aged and very smooth with bourbon notes so its tagline is “vodka for the whiskey drinker.” Also, our light, citrusy, refreshing gin has converted many non-gin drinkers. Lastly, we started an international line that currently only has aquavit in it, but we’re moving forward to a release of arak, which is a West Asian unsweetened distilled spirit in the anise family.
4) Why is giving back an integral part of Nightside’s DNA?
Helping the community is built into all seven of us. That may be because we’ve all been involved in civil service during sometime in our careers. We also recognize that the community is the reason most businesses exist. When we see the happiness we can bring with every promotion, donation or benefit we do, that makes it all worth it.
Last year we raised over $50,000 in donations for a variety of causes. We also have an ongoing promotion with our Fruit Punch Vodka that keeps funds going to South King County Fire. Our last check to them was used to buy coats for kids.