Distillery preps for new stores, move downtown

Heritage Distilling will open a new tasting room in downtown Gig Harbor

Staff writerApril 30, 2014 

Justin Stiefel, co-founder of Heritage Distillery, shows off a bottle of spirits ready to ship. The distillery will open a location downtown this summer.

KAREN MILLER/GATEWAY PHOTO

Like a cask-aged spirits, Heritage Distillery keeps getting better with time.

The distillery is planning to open a new tasting room this summer on the downtown waterfront. When Heidi’s Sweet Shop closed in March, Justin Stiefel — head distiller, CEO and co-founder — said it seemed like an excellent opportunity for the company to expand.

Permits are pending with the city, but Heritage has announced the move with signs in the corner store’s windows. The hope is to open in July.

Stiefel and his wife, Jennifer Stiefel, co-founder and president of Heritage, have been increasing their business for the past several years. The distillery, gift shop and tasting room at 3207 57th St. Court W. has seen steady business.

Now, it’s time to expand. Already featured in area stores including Albertsons and Trader Joes, Heritage is opening outlets in Rosalyn and Eugene, Ore. There’s also the move to the downtown waterfront district.

Justin Stiefel said he sees potential in downtown Gig Harbor. He pointed to new storefront Tickled Pink drawing in consumers and future plans for the former Seasons building.

“We just sense change happening in downtown,” he said.

Furthermore, Heritage will be the nearest spirits stop for boaters. Right now, there isn’t a liquor store in the downtown core for boaters to swing by for a bottle of whiskey, gin or vodka. Heritage wants to be that Gig Harbor must for visitors.

“We want to be a tourist stop,” Justin Stiefel said. “We want to be able to give people a flavor for what goes on in Gig Harbor.”

Speaking of flavor, Heritage has news on that front, too: It will release a line of all-natural, flavored vodka.

For the Stiefels, the major label flavored vodkas have a problem: They’re clear. Justin Stiefel said he believes that if you’re going to drink a raspberry-flavored vodka, it should look like there was a raspberry included at some point.

Heritage Distillery’s flavored line debuts this summer with flavors that include lavender, peach, strawberry and pineapple. The flavors use all-natural ingredients.

“It’s good enough you can drink it straight, on ice,” Justin Stiefel said.

The distillery has made a name for itself in the region; it’s available in stores from Oregon to Alaska.

Notoriety allows the label to flourish. Right now, Heritage is installing a new bottling machine and labeling machine that will speed up production.

“More demand lets us make our product more efficiently,” Justin Stiefel said.

Heritage Distillery is open for gifts and tasting from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday to Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Tours are available upon request. The lower space, where distilling takes place, can be rented as event space.

Karen Miller: 253-358-4155 karen.miller@gateline.com Twitter: @gateway_karen

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