Nestled into the quiet seaside town of Westport, Washington, is a winery creating quite the splash. Walking into the nautically decorated tasting room and, among mermaid memorabilia and locally crafted foodie delights, guests are greeted by a towering collection of bottles showcasing over 500 medals. 

This is Westport Winery Garden Resort. For owner Kim Roberts, achieving a nationally acclaimed winery was just the start. Already a motivated individual, Roberts emerged from her personal battle against cancer victorious and with an even more fiery spirit. A spirit for, well, spirits.

This Black Friday, Roberts is celebrating the grand opening of one of her passion projects: the Ocean’s Daughter Distillery.

From uniquely exotic options like Purple Reign lavender-lemon gin to more classic flavors like the Selkie single malt whiskey, each spirit from the fledgling distillery showcases Robert’s mastery, as well as creativity.

Whether visiting the spirit tasting room or winery restaurant, a list of custom cocktails craft these flavorful liquors in imaginative ways that’ll satisfy a variety of palates. Popular options include a martini tasting flight and the way-too-fun Shark Tank cocktail, served complete with fishing net and a hidden gummy reward. 

On a recent trip to Westport, we stopped by to catch-up with Roberts and learn about these newest passion projects.

What was the inspiration behind expanding into distilling?

After I finished cancer treatment, my daughter and I began traveling together. I’ve always enjoyed visiting other wineries, but we began exploring distilleries too, and immediately fell in love. We are both scuba divers, I was a boat captain, we are water women. Ocean’s Daughter fit our story.

The distillery bottles exhibit beautiful paintings that you personally create. What’s the story behind your art?

When I found out I had cancer three years ago, I had two friends that encouraged me to use art as part of my coping. During treatment I was able to complete one mosaic and another right after. During treatment I found myself drawing only in black and white. In the past year, as I began thinking about the distillery and the name Ocean’s Daughter, I became obsessed with drawing mermaids and each has a unique look. The mermaids allowed me to bring color back into my art.

Along with the distillery, you’re opening the first International Mermaid Museum next fall. Can you share more about that?

Since all of our wines benefit local charities, we wanted our spirits to benefit our community as well. And again, because of my cancer, I wanted to create a community legacy project. That became the International Mermaid Museum. Our mission is to teach ocean ecology, from seashore to sea floor, immersed in mermaid mythology.

As this becomes a self-sustaining project we plan to offer scholarships to local students who do not necessarily fit in the college model. We want to help the kids who want to become captains or merchant mariners. We would love to help these kids find great jobs in our ocean-oriented community.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?

There are a couple important lessons I’ve learned in life and business. The first was from a consultant who said, “Find out what your customer wants, and then give it to them.” It seems self-evident but it is not a common practice. Personally, I have had to learn to appreciate today. When I found out my days were numbered it took my spirit. I am super goal oriented and always looking to the future. I have been working as hard as I can to make a positive difference each day.