A Brief History
Founded in January of 2010, OOLA Distillery was one of the first distilleries to open in Seattle post-Prohibition. Located in Seattle’s vibrant Capitol Hill neighborhood, OOLA produces small, handcrafted batches of premium spirits.
Alongside OOLA Distillery’s production facility is our tasting room with bottles available for purchase. Located adjacent to OOLA is 10 degrees, the only Seattle event space designed by Graham Baba Architects. Initiated and created by dancer and choreographer, KT Niehoff, 10 degrees also serves as the home of KT’s dynamic performance company, Lingo Productions.
About the name “OOLA”
OOLA is named after the greatest German Shepherd who ever lived—sorry, fellow dog owners, this is a non-debatable fact and completely unbiased.
OOLA Distillery produces small, hand-crafted batches of Gins, Vodkas, Whiskeys. This is the real deal—spirits made with a sense of place and a connection to the people who grew the raw ingredients and the man who coaxed them into their more spirited forms—gins in which you can taste the botanicals, distinctive vodkas, and whiskeys that are flavorful and smooth.
Our main line is comprised of our flagship Vodka, three infused Vodkas, our flagship Gin, Waitsburg Barrel-Finished Gin, and Waitsburg Bourbon Whiskey.
We also have an experimental whiskey series called Whiskey Discourse where quality and creative innovation go hand-in-hand. The Discourse Whiskey Series explores classic Whiskey traditions and uses them in innovative ways to create some very interesting “conversations.” The Whiskeys in this series are as delicious as they are unique.
Our premium well brand, ALOO, combines high-quality craft spirits with economy-packaging. The ALOO line grew out of a conversation with a Seattle bar manager who was tired of throwing away expensive packaging when he had a high volume selling cocktail. He complained that when he went to a more friendly bottle (screw top, liter, lightweight glass, etc.) the juice was no longer any good. Eureka! We created the ALOO line with the packaging itself tailored to the bartender’s needs and the cost of packaging tailored to the account’s bottom line so they can use lots of it and keep the quality of the product absolutely top of the heap.
Our Grain and Ingredients
We embrace the grain-to-glass movement by making our vodkas, gins, and whiskeys from the finest grains available. Each year, we ferment and distill over 200,000 pounds of grain at our facility on Capitol Hill.
The cornerstone of our Vodka is a soft white winter wheat, organically and “Salmon Safe” grown by a third-generation Washington family farm near the town of Waitsburg in Eastern Washington. Winter wheat is planted in the fall and it overwinters to be harvested in mid summer.
Soft white winter wheat is also present in our Waitsburg Bourbon Whiskey, along with Waitsburg-grown organic corn and locally-sourced barley and rye.
Our Equipment and Facility
We do all of our mashing, fermenting, distilling, and bottling onsite at our 5,000 square foot facility in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Our Whiskeys are aged off-site in Seattle’s International District just over a mile away from the distillery. The aging facility is located just a few blocks from the Puget Sound. One can actually smell the briny sea at low tide – a note that is sure to carry through to the finished whiskey. We like to think of this as “Merroir.”
For OOLA owner and master distiller, Kirby Kallas-Lewis, OOLA is a labor of love, intellectual curiosity and commitment to the neighborhood he has called home for more than two decades.
A former artist and tribal art dealer, Kirby has long been interested in the power that great food, wine, art, cocktails and entertaining have in connecting people to each other and to a place.
Kirby studied the art and science of distilling intensively (one could say he became totally obsessed) for about 3 years prior to jumping in with both feet and creating OOLA Distillery.
At OOLA, we want to awaken your palette and inspire you to pause, reflect and ultimately savor the things that make life meaningful. Namely: Good friends. Deep relationships. Art in its many forms. People have been transforming humble grainsinto noble spirits since the third century, and we proudly join this long line of adventurers, fools and alchemists.
Raise your glass to being above ground and lucky enough to enjoy it!