The phrase “Gin Equals Love” is elegantly scripted on the wall of the tasting room at Scratch Distillery in Edmonds. While it’s certainly in reference to the craft gins Kim and Bryan Karrik are distilling, it’s also a nod to the couple’s beginnings in 1987.
The two shared gin and tonics on their first date in college.
“Bryan exchanged a crappy beer I was drinking for a gin and tonic," said Kim Karrik. "We went out that night, and now we've been married for 28 years. That’s our little love story."
But it’s no longer just gin that equals love at Scratch. The Karriks have expanded their lineup to include the incredibly popular Edmonds’ Own Whiskey, infused vodkas, liqueurs, aquavits, brandies, and seasonal specialties. But like other small businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on challenges for the distillery. Keeping patrons and staff safe and healthy is the first priority. Scratch has also dealt with supply chain interruptions, capacity limits, and juggling which parties get to sip craft cocktails around the two fireplaces on the distillery’s patio.
Despite the challenges, Scratch is sticking to its roots. Using local and organic products that support other small businesses, producing imaginative spirits that keep cocktails interesting, and serving it all with a bit of education, Scratch is helping us all become our own favorite bartender.
The catalyst for the couple to build their own gin distillery came on a trip to England.
“I was just fascinated with the endless number of gins there,” Karrik said. “At the time, gin wasn't quite on the cusp of popularity like it’s starting to be here now.”
With a palate of gin botanicals from England, the original concept for Scratch Distillery was to make three products from scratch: one gin that works best for martinis, one gin that lends itself well to a gin and tonic, and one vodka. Today Scratch’s lineup includes over 20 different spirits.
With a diverse cocktail list, Scratch serves up a new seasonal cocktail menu every two to four weeks. All drinks and tastings are accompanied by a quick lesson by the spirit experts at Scratch. With a better understanding of what flavor palates you like, Scratch finds you’ll be able to seek out craft cocktails you’ll enjoy most.
By Washington State law, a distillery can call itself “craft” if 51 percent of raw ingredients come from in-state sources. Scratch comes in at 98 percent in-state and organic on top of that.
The grains and potatoes for whiskey, gin, and vodka come from either the Skagit Valley or Warden in Eastern Washington. The herbs and botanicals for gin and flavored vodkas come by way of Bend, Oregon, a local grocer, or homegrown from the balcony of the Karrik’s home.
But some essential botanicals and ingredients Scratch uses don’t grow well in the Pacific Northwest, Karrick said. The juniper that grows here is too piney for a great gin, citrus doesn’t flourish, and it’s nearly impossible to grow healthy sugarcane.
Although not every ingredient can come from within Washington State, Scratch is showing patrons another act of love by sourcing the highest quality to make for the best spirit possible.
If gin equals love our hearts are full thanks to the dedication of the team at Scratch Distillery. From sourcing local ingredients to focusing on education, savoring Scratch spirits is an act of love in our book.
Scratch Distillery in Edmonds is open Thursday through Sunday for curbside pickup, a tasting of spirits, or fireside cocktails. Shop through their website to place a curbside order or for domestic shipping options. Reservations for the tasting room are encouraged but not mandatory. Check out their Instagram to keep up on seasonal offerings and be sure to browse the inventive recipes tab on the Scratch website to impress your friends with your bartending skills.