It almost seems like something out of legend. The ocean beckons. Man takes sailboat and sets out onto ocean. The weather is calm, the day is young, it is time to anchor. Aboard the vessel there is an unopened wine bottle. John Lundin opens the bottle, he and his wife Jessica ready to drink the contents. It doesn’t take long to realize it is unpalatable. Lundin had been wanting to try stove-top distillation for awhile and now was his chance.
Using just a few implements, he creates a brandy. Sadly, also unpalatable. But, an ever-valuable lesson is learned, to craft high-quality spirits you need the freshest and finest ingredients. Fast-forward 10 years and Bluewater Organic Distilling has become one of the most highly-respected craft distilleries in not only the Pacific Northwest, but the whole country.
After the initial distilling attempt, the Lundins made the decision to produce commercially out of Everett, Washington. They purchased a location in the Port of Everett, and began distilling gin and vodka. At first the business solely relied on bottle sales and tastings, but as time went on the decision to expand became easy. Four years ago the couple purchased Bluewater’s current location, conveniently located just a couple hundred feet away on the waterfront.
The Port of Everett is the largest public marina on the West Coast and is undergoing a massive multi-million redevelopment project. Lundin says it was and is the ideal location for Bluewater to call home.
“What we have done now is to try and create a new blueprint for what it means to be a distillery,” he says. “We aren’t just a distillery anymore. We have a cocktail bar, restaurant, event space, manufacturing warehouse and waterfront views.”
Bluewater’s location is divided into three separate zones: a manufacturing zone, an events space and the cocktail bar. Lundin and his staff emphasize the use of organic products and embrace the idea of being independent and transparent in their craft. “You will never see a Coca-Cola or Sysco truck stopping off to drop ingredients at Bluewater,” he says. “We work together with local and family-owned distributors and vendors of all kinds to deliver you the product we create.”
Renowned for its award-winning Halycon Organic Distilled gin, Bluewater also produces its Bluewater vodka and 100 Proof vodka. In addition, an alternating limited series is available for purchase at the distillery only.
Lundin attributes a big part of his love for spirits to his Scandinavian heritage and upbringing. Spending his younger childhood years growing up in Sweden before moving to the States gave him a different outlook on food, drink and developing his palate, he says.
“There was always lots of akvavit, gin and liqueurs around my household with my parents being Swedish,” Lundin adds. “Growing up in two different nations you get to learn about flavor in a whole different way. I think this helped me develop my taste as a distiller.”
At Bluewater, the consumer enjoys both drink and food prepared in-house and with purpose. Through the commitment to organic ingredients and local business, it is evident Lundin wants to change the way the world looks at the distilling business as a whole. He says creativity is what drives him, and the freedom to create at Bluewater is something everyone on staff benefits from.
Bartenders are encouraged to experiment with different ingredients, so long as they are sticking to Bluewater’s creative and independent philosophy. This allows the staff to focus on making cocktails that are fresh, lush and exciting as opposed to the over-complexity some cocktail bars put into their drinks, Lundin says.
“Being an independent distillery, we want to keep it local and be a community hub for other distillers and local spirits, not just our own,” he says. “We walk the line that most bars do not.”