by Kimball Allen
– The Capitol Hill Times –
When hosting out of town guests do you ever struggle with finding unique, affordable, local experiences to do with them? Are you starting to get exhausted of the same ‘ol tourist attractions? I haven’t even lived here that long and I’m already maxing out on my site seeing quotas. I’ve reached my limit on how many tours I can give of an alley wall covered with ABC (Already Been Chewed) gum, or an overpriced elevator ride to the top of our beloved Space Needle to enjoy an equally overpriced coffee at the top.
I had two friends visiting from the San Francisco Bay Area and I was on a mission to show these ladies a good time and for them not to have a “been there done that type of holiday.” They wanted to play in our neighborhood to see what all of the Capitol Hill Fuss was about. Naturally I had an evening itinerary of gay pubs, hipster bars, and dance clubs with Seattle Vegie Dogs waiting for us at the 2 a.m. finish line. Capitol Hill’s nightlife was a shoe in; it was the day time field trips that required a little more creativity.
Capitol Hill is full of unique and interesting galleries, boutiques, shops, museums, theatres, and parks. Really there is a ton to do on our urban hill; I just needed to figure out which venues to choose from. As I was hoofing it up East Union contemplating on where to take my houseguests, a subtle fermenting yeast-like aroma filled the air. The aroma culprit was Oola Distillery located across the street. What was this business? And why haven’t I ever really noticed it before? Perhaps this is because Oola is somewhat of the new kid on the block, officially opening its doors for commercial sales last summer.
A few days later I called my newly discovered micro-distillery to set-up a complimentary tasting that they offer each Saturday at 3 p.m. via reservation. Fast forward to Saturday and about a dozen people (including my crew) began to congregate in Oola’s spacious industrial style sales room. That familiar fermentation smell that originally beckoned me here was in the air, glass liquor bottles were uniformly displayed on wooden shelves giving us a sneak peek of what was to come in the room next door.
We were greeted by our friendly and knowledgeable tasting expert. Escorting us into the warehouse a stately copper still shimmered in the center. The distillery is located in a renovated warehouse that distills, ages, bottles, packs, ships, and sells all its liquors onsite. Though this is a micro-distillery there is definitely nothing small in the quality of Oola’s product. We had the opportunity to taste a selection of their award winning spirits: gin, vodka, Chili Pepper Vodka (my personal favorite), Rosemary Vodka, Citrus Vodka, and Waitsburg Bourbon Whiskey. Oola isn’t stopping with the six we sampled; they are currently in the experimental phase of un-released liquors. Each sample was incredibly unique, sophisticated, and smooth. There is no doubt that this distillery is a true labor of love from Co-Owner and Distiller Kirby Kallas-Lewis.
When discussing all things Oola to Co-owner and Managing Director Jeana Harrington it was apparent that the company feels committed and connected to Capitol Hill and the greater Seattle community. They were the official whisky sponsor of this year’s Seattle International Film Festival and they have over 400 accounts in Washington State alone (they are in eight states total plus the District Colombia). Oola definitely has a Capitol Hill presence; you can find a bottle behind the bar at Smith, Canon, Skillet, Tavern Law, Presse, among many other local establishments. You can also purchase bottles at Madison Co-Op, Wine World and Spirits, Total Wine and More, QFC, and Whole Foods. I would highly recommend the next time you have friends or family visiting take them to an Oola’s tasting and have them experience something that is uniquely Capitol Hill. Oh, and buy a bottle on your way out.
1314 East Union Street