Matt Melaik, creator of The Walter Collective named his company after this grandfather. The eponymous Walter wasn’t a distiller but instead an artist. Story goes he’d retreat to his workshop, mix himself a vodka martini — and with paint brushes in hand he’d create scenes of “whimsy and humor: a dog chasing a mailman, a car splashing water on a well-dressed businessman,” Melaik says. It was this fun-loving artistry that inspired Melaik to form The Walter Collective, a Northwest-based gin and vodka company in 2014.
Melaik took his love of gin and combined that with a dream of tributing his late grandfather’s artistic abilities by creating his own spirits, starting with gin. “Creating gin is beautiful and using botanicals as paint to create the right balances and ratios is similar,” he says of his artistic heredity.
Prior to the first distillation in summer of 2015 at Oregon Spirit Distillers, Melaik experimented with over 50 single-distillations of different botanicals. The decided ingredient ratio would eventually come to be a formula of Italian juniper, grapefruit, cassia, cardamom and other spices.
The “Collective” aspect of the name pays homage to Melaik’s cooperative business model of distilling. The spirits company doesn’t have its own distillery. Instead, The Walter Collective produces gin in partnership with Oregon Spirit Distillers in Bend, Oregon. The company’s other crisp and smooth spirit, vodka is produced at Skip Rock Distillers in Snohomish, Washington.
“For me it’s more fun and gives me more flexibility moving forward,” Melaik explains.“If I wanted to do different products in the future, I’d have full flexibility to choose a partner and distillery based on their equipment and their experiences.”
While the gin may be inspired by his late grandfather — the bright gin with warm spice notes and its collective production method — is anything but stuck in the past. Try The Walter Gin Collective’s juniper-forward but mellow, complex gin in the Roger Moore at Little Bird Bistro in Portland. If you prefer, bring yourself out from under that sopping wet umbrella and to sandy beaches by mixing this fall daiquiri at home.
Recipe by Michael Helgeson of Little Bird Bistro
Makes 1 cocktail
1 ounce The Walter Collective gin
1/2 ounce Diplomatico rum
1/2 ounce Bacardi 8 rum
1/4 ounce 2:1 agave syrup
1/4 ounce Combier banana liqueur
1/2 ounce heavy cream
2/3 ounce lime juice
Garnish: whole nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin, cap, shake and strain. Shave fresh nutmeg over the top to garnish.