What is a distillery?

I have found that many people don’t know what a distillery is. Many get it confused with a brewery and they think we are going to brew beer. I like beer and have brewed beer, but I would rather drink it than make it. 

A distillery makes hard alcohol like whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, etc. The process of making distilled spirits starts off much of the same as making beer. We start by combining some basic ingredients such as grains, yeast & water. Of course each product’s recipe varies. The grains breakdown and convert the starches to sugars. With the help of the yeast and enzymes the sugar is converted into alcohol. This is where the similarity ends between beer and distilled spirits. Once the yeast and sugar has done their jobs we drain off the spent grains. We take the remaining liquid and pour it into the still. Alcohol's boiling point is lower than water so it vaporizes first. It is then condensing by cooling the vapor, and collecting the resulting liquid commonly known as alcohol.

I’m sure you can tell by now, I am not the expert distiller. This is so very true, but I’m learning from a great teacher. If you want to learn more, I encourage you to visit our tasting room and plant when we open in the fall of 2014. Dave is a great teacher.

I hope that helps clear up some confusing between a brewery—that makes beer and a distillery—that makes hard alcohol.

Have a wonderful evening,


It's Official!

Great news! Bad Dog Distillery is approved to operate as a Distilled Spirit Plant. It’s amazing how fast this happened. According to the TTB website the average wait time for a DSP is 120 days. Ours was approved around 42 days. The next step is to get approved by Washington State.

Now that the paperwork is done, it’s crunch time to get the tasting room done. Dave, Mark and Marc along with other friends have been hard at it. The guys decided to use large beams instead of TGI joists (manufactured). So they headed up to our local Oso sawmill and got logs.  Once the structure is up it will be us girls’ turn to finish the décor and painting. This will be the fun part.

Another exciting thing for me is Dave built stairs to what is now my office at the distillery. As I type I’m sitting in my office complete with internet!! Most don’t know that we haven’t been able to get DSL at our house. This is a real treat for me. No more having to cram stuff in on my lunch breaks.

We had one slight set back this week. We settled on a logo, but I found that Bad Dog Bitters has a very similar one.   Alyssa and I both agreed we better change ours. So…back to the drawing board. It’s really not that big of a deal. We haven’t used it in any marketing yet.

Stay tune for our new logo…..

Cheers & blessing,

Shelly, Dave & Hank (aka Bad Dog)

The Walls are Going Up

We are gaining momentum with the distillery.  Last Thursday the TTB requested additional information for our permit.  They wanted more detail on the layout of the interior and another drawing.    I submitted that on Monday and got a phone call yesterday.  I was told our application was going to be forwarded to final approval.  We could potentially have our operation permit in a couple of weeks.

Dave is putting up the walls for the tasting room and the grain loft. I order internet and phone service and should have that by Monday.  I bought a printer last night and will buy an iPad once we get the internet up and running.

Probably the most exciting part of the week is the finalization of our logo.  I posted 3 options on Facebook and got lots of good comments.  We took those comments to create the final logo.  I can’t wait to share it with everyone.  Once I get the distillery’s office fully functional, which should be next week, I will work on an official Bad Dog Distillery’s Facebook page.  And probably should figure out the Twitter thing too….

Dave and I wish all of you a fabulous weekend and thank your for reading Bad Dog’s blog.  Next week I’ll be adding pictures to it.




Oso Mudslide

It’s hard to believe next Tuesday will mark the 1 month anniversary of the Oso landslide. Dave and I were at a distiller’s tasting event called Snohomish on the Rocks that day. I remember when Dave got the phone call from his friend, Guy. We both thought, “A mudslide. It’s happened before up there. No biggy.” After our event Dave called a buddy that lives in Oso and found out it was a very big deal and total devastation. From that point we both went into shock, grief and then how do we help mode.


That Saturday night was the first opportunity to help. Dave got a phone call at 9:30PM from a client asking Dave to come and get his horse because their place was flooding. That seems like a simple enough request, but the client lives on the Darrington side. Dave and some friends had to make a 4-hour round trip to get the horse. She is now living with us. The following week Dave knew he needed to do more. He headed up to the Oso fire station dressed in his logging clothes and packing his chainsaw. He was put to work as a sawyer. He cut logs so the excavators could pick them up and move them. Homes were buried under these muddy log piles. The work was slow going. They needed more heavy equipment. By Thursday of that week Dave told me that he had to get a machine up there. He’s an operator, he can do more. He called a rental company and got an excavator dropped off at the site by either Friday or Monday—by now the days have become a blur. The rental fee is $2,000 a week out of our pocket. He spent the next couple of weeks operating the track hoe and working along with the FEMA group, which included his cousin Fred. Who would imaging that Freddy, a Seattle Firefighter would be working in a debris field with his cousin in Oso/Darrington.


While Dave was working in the debris field I was helping organize a donation drive at AMT where I work. A co-worker had connections with the media and AMT became a donation drop off point. The donation response was overwhelming to say the least. We were so fortunate that the distillery was still empty. We took all the supplies for the worker to the distillery. We organized everything on pallets. It became a staging area to replenish supplies for the people working in the debris field. This kept me busy for 14 days straight.


It’s been 3 weeks now. Dave and I are both getting back to our normal routine. Tuesday was his last day on the site. It’s time to focus on the distillery again. The Monday after the slide I submitted our paperwork for the Distilled Spirit Plant permit to operate. This was a huge accomplishment. We also opened a bank account at Coastal Community bank. I would say this completes phase 1.


Next on our list is Dave has to get the plant set up. We have about 3 months before we could potentially have our TTB inspection. I will be working on our brand strategy and labels. After that we will work at creating a website and social media pages. So stay tune for our new logo….




It’s Not our Plan…

This week has been a very stressful week.  We have gone to 2 banks trying to get funding.  Both banks were not even sure what a distillery is.  I have pictures in our business plan on what it might look like and talk about the distilling equipment and the tasting room.  But they still can’t visualize on what a craft distillery business model looks like.  Dave and I were warned about this in the distilling workshop.


Because they don’t know what a distillery is they can’t see it being successful.  The banker last night even told us that he heard there is a distillery in Snohomish that is financially struggling.  And that’s the only things he knows about it.  I hope he takes the time to read my business plan.  If he does he will fully understand that this can be a lucrative business if done right.


I just got the call from the bank. They will not loan us any money unless we put our house up as collateral.  That is not an option.  Many of you know we co-own our house with my daughter and her family.  The house is my grandchildren’s home and we will never jeopardize it.

What now?  God always provides and this is not an exception.  We are fortunate enough to have enough money on my old Bayliner’s 401K to get the business up.  We are going to have to cut a few extra corners, but I have faith we can make it work.  We will most likely be looking for some investor to supplement if we think we don’t have enough capital to do a good job.  We will decide this in the very near future.

This week was a clear reminder that we think we can make plans but ultimately the successful plans are always Gods plans.  We wanted a bank loan to keep things simple.  I guess that’s not part of the plan.

I’m thankful that we know the answer regarding our funding and can move on.  Next week I hope to be able to finalize the TTB permit paperwork and file it by Friday.  That will be a great accomplishment.

Have a wonderful weekend and I wish you many blessings



Patience, patience, patience

Patience…. My lifelong lesson.  Dave and I are patiently waiting to hear from the bank.  I had to call them on Monday because it had been over a week since we submitted our paperwork.  It’s a good thing I did because John said, “Well I’m waiting for paperwork from you.”  That paperwork he was waiting for had been sitting on his desk for a week.  He forgot.  John said he would get right to work on it and we will know something by Wednesday, which is today.

I thought I had the bond all finish.  Well actually the bond is finish, but in the wrong amount.  Last Thursday I received the bond in the mail and then Friday afternoon I came across a worksheet that said we needed the bond coverage amount to be a minimum of $15,000. Our bond is only $10,000.  When I started working on the bond all I could find is documentation saying it had to be at least 90 days worth of taxes that we would owe.  At this point I’m not sure if we can change the bond.  My awesome insurance gal is working on it for me.  However, yesterday I came across another statement on the TTB website that said if your bond is not in the minimal amount you must fill out this other paperwork.  So that leads me to believe the $15,000 is not a must.  We’ve heard the TTB paperwork can be a challenge.  I see why now.


Other things in the working…. Dave has lined up a boom truck to get the silo from Sumas.  He also has a number for a milk tank that’s in Sumas.  We filed for a tenant improvement permit to build our tasting room.  The city was extremely helpful and they are eager to see us open.  I’m working at filling out the TTB form for the plant permit.  There are a lot of questions that leaves a person guessing at what do they really want to know.  Such a “Describe each tract of land covered by the distilled spirits plant by using directions and distances.”  Oh the fun….

Have a wonderful week.  I hope to be giving you good news about our funding in the next blog.



Financing, Lease & Bond

Wow! What a crazy week it was last week. I vaguely remember starting a blog sometime last week. I thought I saved it, but now I can’t find it. And that’s just how last week was, a bit of a blur. Instead of writing paragraphs of all the happenings, I’m just going to list them--short, sweet bullet points.

• Met with landlord to finalize the lease. As of today this is about 90% complete. We have a hand written copy to submit to the bank, but it’s not the legal copy.

• Met with the bank. He seemed to be impressed with the business plan but wasn’t sure what a distillery was. We gave him more info today. Now it’s pray and wait-n-see.

• Had to find a new surety company for the bond. We got a new response but then had the question on who is the Obligee. I ended up having to ask the WA Guild forum. I couldn’t find the answer anywhere. It was very frustrating. It’s the TTB.

• Dave found a grain silo for outside aesthetics. It’s in Sumas. He has to work out the logistics on how to get it on the trailer and to the distillery site.

Our biggest focus right now is to get our financing, the lease and the bond. Without those we can’t submit for our Distilled Spirit Plant (DSP) permit with the TTB. Once we file for this permit we will have about a 120 day wait to receive it.

I hope to be sharing good news about our financing by the end of the week.

I wish everyone a wonderful week, Shelly

Hidden Blessings

Many times things happen that people just blow off as a coincident. I always see these as something that’s meant be. Sometimes I try to analyze why but more often I accept them and thank the Lord for the small blessing. Last week Dave had his hernia surgery. While most of us see this as an unfortunate event, it turned out to be really good. Dave was forced to stop doing manual labor for while. During his down time has was able to really focus on his distillery projects. This week Dave met with the city of Arlington’s building official. The guy was very helpful and told Dave we shouldn’t run into any problems with the city. He was also very excited to have a distillery coming to Arlington.

Dave also finished the drawings of the plant and tasting room which is a requirement for the DSP Permit. He made several phone calls to gather resources for his still builds. Yesterday he made an appointment with the bank and got our lease agreement. So….. his hernia operation was a blessing in disguise. So much progress was made this week!!!

Craft Distillery vs. Standard Distillery

Good morning, Did you know there are two different types of spirit distillery licenses in Washington State?  They are the Standard Distillery License and a Craft Distillery License.

The Craft Distillery License is limited to producing 60,000 gallons of spirits a year, their annual fee is $100 and they can offer free on-premises tastings.  One of the biggest drawbacks for a Craft Distillery is 51% of their raw material must be Washington State grown.  Another drawback is they can only sell up to 2 liters of their spirits from their tasting room.

The Standard Distillery license’s annual fee is $2,000, however there isn’t a limit on how many gallons they can produce or where the raw materials come from.  Other than the cost the only other disadvantage for a Standard Distillery is they can’t offer any tastings on premises.

Bad Dog Distillery will be a Craft Distillery.  One of the main reasons we chose to be a craft is we want a tasting room.  We want our community to visit and learn about our distilling process. We want to share some of the moonshine and our nation’s liquor history.  And we want to give you a free taste of a product that we are proud of.

One of the exciting things about this industry is its rebirth is fairly new.  Most of the people involved are very passionate and want to see some lingering prohibition laws changed.  One of the proposed changes is the Senate Bill #6226.  This bill proposes changes on some of the limitation of both types of distillery licenses.  The attached is a copy of the SENATE BILL REPORT SB 6226.SB 6226

I hope you enjoy this tidbit of information…



My Work Day

Many of you know that I work a full-time job in addition to trying to get the distillery up and running.  During my day I'm allowed two 10 minute breaks and a 1/2 hour lunch.  As soon as those bells ring I push my work off to the side and grab my distillery stuff.  I always have my thumb-drive plug into my computer--which I love this portable technology.  Friday, on my first morning break, at 8:30 AM, I google for an "old man" picture to send to our graphic guy.  I needed the moonshine label to show the bank.  I want our moonshine label to say "Grandpa's Likker".  The mission was succesfull...10 minutes. Except I never got it sent.  But the picture is saved on my thumb-drive.

My lunch break I started to print documents to put a packet together for our meeting with another graphic designer and marketing guy. I created a couple of pages to show what the tasting and plant will look like.   I also emailed a bottle contact to get some sample bottles to show the bank.  It's amazing how fast a 1/2 hour goes by.

Second break... start 3-hole punching my documents to put in a binder.  Finished the tasting room page!

Quitting time... I need to finish my business plan folder for the graphic guy meeting.  Dang!!! The index tabs labels aren't printing right.  Never fails when you're in a hurry a challenge arrives.  I had 10 minutes to get it right before I had to leave to pick up Dave at home so we could head back to Skookum Brewery to meet the new graphics guy.  On my way home I passed Dave that was parked at a neighbor's house.  I had to do a 'U'y and remind him I was picking him up at home--now! 

Awe..... 4:30 PM made it to Skookum on time and ready for a relaxing beer...... ok now back to business meeting with the graphic guy. 

8 PM--- Home and done for the day.



I'm not a blogger

 Ask me two years ago, or even just 1 month ago if I would be a blogger and I would say, "no".  I'm not a writer, I'm a numbers person.  I never fully understood the proper use of grammar past the basics of nouns and verbs.  My spelling is so bad even spell check doesn't know some of the words that I'm attempting.  But here I am...blogging. This craziness started about a week ago when I read an article about social media.  It stated that Facebook was already showing signs of fizzling out.  The article talked about how most social media groups are only hot for about 10 years.  The only one that has consistently stayed strong is blogging.

You know how some things stick with you?  Well this article did.  I was initially interested in the article because of advertising and marketing Bad Dog Distillery.  Then I really started thinking that blogging was the best place to share the experience of starting this business.  So many people ask us how we are progressing.  This is the place where you can get that answer and more.

I intend to keep my blogs short. This will probably be my longest. They won't be poetic or creative. They will be just me, Shelly.  Say it like it is.  My hope is that you will be able to join us on the great and blessed journey we are on.  Maybe it will give you the inspiration to dare to dream like Dave and I.  Or maybe it will confirm that we are just crazy. 

See you soon....cheers and blessing....Shelly