Whidbey Island is small and quiet, but we are an island of creators. There are so many amazing people doing amazing things here on Whidbey, which means there is no shortage of fun and unique opportunities for you and your wedding guests! Our team was lucky enough to spend time with one creative company recently – the delightful family behind Mutiny Bay Distillery.
The Stallman Family has called Whidbey home for over twenty years. Rod and Kathy’s dreams of owning and operating their own distillery began when they were working as pharmacists on the island. Fast forward a lot of years and a lot of hard work, and the Stallmans are living their dream with their son, Scott, by their side. They called it “mom, pop and son”, and we love that.
Mutiny Bay Distillery is conveniently located in Freeland, Washington, on the south end of Whidbey Island. Just ten miles from the Clinton Ferry, Mutiny Bay Distillery sits nicely alongside blueberry fields and in the foreground of beautiful Mutiny Bay. As you enter the distillery, you will notice that sweet, fermenting smell that our island distilleries have made me so fond of. The Stallmans are passionate about supporting local artists, a commitment that is made clear by the local art displayed (and offered for sale) in their tasting room.
Rod, Kathy, Scott and Obi the Distillery Dog all welcomed us warmly. As this was my first visit to Mutiny Bay Distillery, I enjoyed the friendliness of our hosts and the display of their products that offered me a little preview to the tour and tasting ahead. And who wouldn’t love a greeting from this guy?
We were welcomed in to the back of the distillery, where only good things are happening. Local gains new meaning when you learn that the wheat Mutiny Bay Distillery is using for their whiskeys originates in the Palouse region of Washington State, at Rod’s cousin’s wheat farm. I love that. Mutiny Bay Distillery utilizes two stills – one small, one massive – to distill. We loved learning about their process, which had definite aspects that are uniquely Mutiny Bay Distillery such as the fact that, rather than utilize computers, the entire distilling process is monitored manually.
The Stallmans are deeply proud of their island-crafted products, as they should be. Their devotion to utilizing local ingredients (wheat from the family farm, blueberries from their next-door neighbor, Mutiny Bay Blues, coffee from Useless Bay Coffee Company in Langley) and their focus on contributing positively to our local community is apparent in everything they do.
As I listened to Rod and Scott speak candidly about their work, I thought about how much you have to care about what you are doing in order to be patient with such a lengthy process. The Distillery’s Palouse Gold Whiskey, for example, begins with that wheat from the family farm, continues with a three year barrel aging process at the distillery and, finally, concludes with the end product: Mutiny Bay Distillery’s extremely popular Palouse Gold Aged Wheat Whiskey. This particular whiskey was the first aged whiskey to be crafted on Whidbey Island, and comes with a waiting list every time it is back in stock.
We enjoyed hearing about the Distillery’s plans for the future. As artisans, the Stallmans are always creating, always brainstorming, always dreaming. This was evidenced by the Madeira wood barrels they had made and that they turned every 60 days in order to flavor. Though there are plans for expansion of the tasting room and construction of a new barrel room, Scott spoke genuinely about the challenges that come with growing a company while never losing the “hand-stirred” foundation that Mutiny Bay Distillery is built upon.
“That’s the fun of it,” Rod shared. “Building this stuff.”
Eventually we moved back to the tasting room, where Kathy was waiting with the good stuff. Our tasting was made even more enjoyable by the fun family stories and history that accompanied it. And I absolutely loved that our tastings were poured in to medicine cups, a charming nod to Rod and Kathy’s pharmacy past. We began with the Sweet Lulu, which Kathy described as a good introduction to whiskey. If you think you don’t like whiskey, Sweet Lulu with its warm, caramel notes has a solid chance at changing your mind. The Bayside Triple Distilled Whiskey is super smooth, and is the whiskey that is aged in Madeira barrels. Our tasting continued with the Palouse Gold, the blueberry liqueur, and finally the coffee liqueur (my personal favorite).
As we enjoyed our tasting, I thought about how obvious it was that our hosts were absolutely loving the excitement of creating and crafting and growing. I think maybe Kathy said it best, when she laughed and exclaimed “what happens next?!” These people are having fun, and they care so much, and you feel that as you sip from their hand-labeled bottles.
Mutiny Bay Distillery has compiled a fantastic list of cocktails featuring their whiskeys and liqueurs that would add that perfect island touch to your wedding reception. Your guests will love a simple signature cocktail made from quality local ingredients, and a bottle of Sweet Lulu or of the coffee liqueur is pretty much guaranteed to go over well as gifts for your bridesmaids or groomsmen. The Mutiny Bay Distillery Tasting Room is open Thursday through Monday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stop in, meet some great people, share some laughter and taste a fantastic round of Whidbey Island whiskey!