A western sojourn: practice, and our first still

Hi friends! Apologies for the radio silence. Let the noise commence!

2 weeks ago today, we took the ferry from Seattle across the sound to Bainbridge Island, to Bainbridge Organic Distillers. They were sizing up to a bigger still, and we bought their old one, a 250 gallon Vendome, handmade in Kentucky 3 years ago.

We spent a week learning how to operate this:

ImageOur teachers were Keith Barnes and Charlie Merrill. Keith is the founder and owner of Bainbridge, and the mastermind behind Motive Marketing, and kind of a distilling sage. Charlie, who spends all day tending the still and the mash cooker and fermenters is a man after our own heart - a guitar maker, vintner, and general renaissance man. He and his lovely wife Jill put us up in their home and took great care of us. Here's Charlie, who's also a crack forklift operator:

ImageWe got lots of good hands on time with our new still:


ImageWe practiced making and cleaning up big spills, which is one of the basic competencies of a good distiller.

Sample dialogue: Joel: "Sorry I turned on that pump before you were ready for it, spewing hundreds of gallons of boiling hot mash all over the place." Charlie: "You're going to be a great distiller in no time." Joel: "What else can I do for you boss?"

ImageAnd then Emily flew home to take care of Squid and her dissertation, and Joel spent a couple more days taking the still apart and packing it up.


ImageAfter a week together, it was saying goodbye to good friends. I think they felt the same about us - they definitely felt that way about the still.

ImageBut they're in good hands - their new still arrived just before we left. It's a looker too!