By Megan Brown
For the Everett Herald Business Journal
Long before it was a trending topic on Facebook, Kimberley and Bryan Karrick appreciated the artistry of craft spirits.
The Edmonds couple had been experimenting with home brewing for years before deciding to open Scratch Distillery, one of several businesses replacing the Waterfront Antique Mall on Sunset Avenue in Edmonds.
A botanical blending course on a trip to London in 2013 inspired the Karricks to pour their own specialty spirits.
When they returned from their trip, Kimberley Karrick enrolled in classes to learn more about gin production.
“It was a hard week,” she said. “It’s a hard industry to get into.”
The couple forged on. They ordered the distilling machinery from Germany and signed the lease for the 3,000-square-foot space last August.
Scratch Distillery’s vibrant combination of white and lime green color scheme and giant silver stills on concrete floors give the open-air space a Willy Wonka vibe. The business opened in July.
A self-proclaimed “gin geek,” Kimberley Karrick is excited to craft new concoctions for the distillery. Scratch Distillery will produce new twists on whiskey, vodka and gin.
“Gin is just botanically infused vodka, which a lot of people don’t realize,” she said. “Most of the world just gets neutral spirit from massive producers, and put their own botanical infusion to it, or just rebottle it. But our name is Scratch, because we’re doing everything from scratch.”
Scratch Distillery sources local ingredients to make the vodka: organic grains for the alcohol botanicals come from Skagit Valley, and potato flour is from Eastern Washington.
The botanicals are run through the 16.5 feet tall stills, attached to a dizzying array of tubes, pipes and a complex water filtration system. Technical mishaps in operating the complicated machinery are inevitable.
Kimberley Karrick doesn’t seem concerned about the learning curve with the stills. She even shares the challenges with fans on social media.
The machinery took months longer than expected to arrive from Germany. The Karricks finally hired another shipper to save the machinery from a Chicago rail yard.
At first, Scratch will only be open on weekends. Distilling the alcohol can take weeks, and the Karricks are the only staff members so far.
But Kimberley Karrick said she’ll gladly gives tours to curious visitors when she catches them peeking through the glass doors. She hopes to expand visiting hours after the first few months of opening.
And because rental space in Edmonds is hard to find, Kimberley Karrick designed Scratch’s spacious tasting room to accommodate banquets and other community events.
The Karricks have lived in Edmonds for 12 years. Kimberley Karrick quit her sales job to open the business. Bryan is an optometrist in Edmonds and works at the distillery on weekends.
“There’s no such thing as a day off anymore,” she said.
Though the Karricks have bought and sold optometry clinics, opening Scratch Distillery has been a novel experience for the couple. The couple met while attending Michigan State University. On their first date, Bryan Karrick made the romantic gesture of exchanging her “really crappy beer” for his gin and tonic.
After graduating from optometry school, Bryan Karrick brought a blindfolded Kimberley back to the same bar to pop the question.
When she removed the blindfold, she saw him on one knee, with a gin and tonic in one hand, an engagement ring in the other.
“We say gin equals love,” Kimberley Karrick said.