The PNW landscape has inspired paintings and poetry (rightfully so) — but what about gin?
Astraea Spirits is a Seattle-based, woman-owned-and-operated distilling company that seeks to turn founder Danielle Leavell’s love for our moody, mystical region into something that can be tasted and shared.
Does this drink remind you of something?
There are four gins in Astraea’s line of spirits, each created with a different piece of the Northwest in mind:
- Mist — reminiscent of the rare clear days we get in the winter with notes of salt and orange
- Meadow — more specifically, Mt. Rainier in the summer. You’ll detect grassy/floral notes and honey.
- Ocean — delicate hints of brine and seaweed.
- Forest — you might find these notes are reminiscent of the fresh spruce-y scent of our local woods
In keeping with the distillery’s goal, most of the botanicals — like seaweed and balsam fir — that go into creating the intricate flavor profiles are sourced through local foraging companies. Although, don’t ask Danielle where — any good forager knows certain locations are best kept secret.
Tasty gin takes hard work
While having an excellent muse to inspire your work certainly helps ensure a good product, distilling any sort of spirit is... well, complicated and it takes a lot of time to learn how to do well.
Danielle said that it was always a secret dream of hers to be a winemaker. And after experimenting at home with making her own bitters and amari, Danielle decided she wanted to do something serious with her passion.
While in Scotland, she stumbled across Herriot-Watt University’s MSc Brewing and Distilling program — one of the few in the world that offer a degree in the science. The school only takes 60 students per year and largely occupied by young students with a chemistry degree already under their belt. However, she was encouraged by the school because of her demonstrated passion and was accepted.
Following her completion of the program, Danielle is now one of only 10 women in the US with the title of Master Distiller backed by her degree. She was able to workshop her first gin Mist while in the program, but finished the rest quickly after.
Astraea Spirits — named after the Greek goddess of purity and precision — was officially born in 2021.
Astraea Spirits’ warehouse is currently under construction, but should be open for tastings in the next six weeks or so.
In the meantime, Danielle’s gins can be ordered online or picked up at local retailers like PCC and West Seattle Liquor and Wine.
Or, if you’d like to learn from her directly, Danielle will be at a tasting and small bites event — Adventures with Astraea — on Wednesday, March 29 at Tavern Law.