Taste some of world’s best spirits at Bothell’s Wildwood Spirits Co.

Erik Liedholm reached back into his past for the names of his distillery and spirits.

Wildwood Spirits Co. is named after the street, Wildwood Street, that Liedholm grew up on in Michigan. Owing to Liedholm’s Swedish roots, Wildwood’s spirits have Swedish-inspired names, including Stark Vatten, or strong water.

Wildwood Spirits Co., a craft distillery in Bothell, opened its new tasting room on Dec. 4. The intimate tasting room is a stylish take on an early 20th century English apothecary, and will be open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. It will serve complimentary half-ounce tastes of Kur gin and Stark Vatten vodka.

Wildwood’s gin and vodka, first introduced in August 2014, have won numerous awards, including top honors from the New York World Wine and Spirits Competition and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

For Wildwood, quality comes down to matters of the heart. When spirits are distilled, the distillate comes out in what is known as the head, the heart and the tail. The head and tails — the first and last to be distilled — can have off-flavors that are undesirable for a finished product.

Liedholm and Mikael Taib, Wildwood’s vice-distiller, like to cut deep into the heart, saving only the best of the run. It means they don’t end up with quite as much product from each run, but, Taib says it creates a better spirit.

Liedholm, who compares vodka to tofu, wanted a flavorless, odorless spirit when creating Stark Vatten. So he focused on the texture. Stark Vatten, which is 80 proof, has a nice texture without the shocking mouthfeel of some vodkas.

“It has a soft finish. It’s unbelievable for a vodka,” Taib said. “You’re not getting that harsh feel.”

It’s also important for Wildwood to create a good vodka, because it’s the base for their gin.

“If we mess up the vodka, we mess up the gin,” Liedholm said.

Liedholm and Taib emphasized that they put a lot of care, and work, into their gin.

“We are masochists, so we make gin the hard way,” Liedholm said. “We distill each botanical separately.”

Some gin makers put all the botanicals into the still together and distill them that way. For Kur, Liedholm and Taib distill the juniper by itself, orange by itself, and so on. They say that allows them to create a better and more consistent product. For instance, they use Seville oranges, which they distill when they’re in season.

Liedholm is understandably proud of his gins. The gin, while definitely still featuring juniper, isn’t overpowered by it. The other botanicals shine through, particularly the citrus. The scent has an especially pleasing hint of citrus. You can drink it straight or mixed.

“It’s not overly juniper, it doesn’t hit you in the face,” Taib said. “But then there’s enough there for those who do love it.”

Liedholm is clearly proud of his gin. Asked to describe it, he starts by simply saying “Magic,” with a serious tone but a hint of a grin.

Recipes from Taib: “I suggest trying the spirits straight up as a martini so you can truly taste them, or alternatively with a light amount of soda or tonic. However if you prefer a cocktail, here are a few recipes.”


2ounces Kur gin

1/4ounce Luxardo Maraschino

1/4ounce Crème de Violette

1/2ounce fresh lemon juice

Garnish Maraschino cherry

Glass: Chilled coupe glass.

Tools: Shaker, strainer.

Combine all ingredients, add a scoop of ice, shake to liven up the juice, strain and garnish with cherry.

White cranberry cosmo

2ounces Stark Vatten vodka

1/2ounce Cointreau

1/4ounce fresh lime juice

2ounces white cranberry juice

Garnish mint leaf

Glass: Chilled coupe glass.

Tools: Shaker, strainer.

Combine all ingredients, add a scoop of ice, shake to revitalize the juice, strain and garnish with a mint leaf.


2ounces Kur gin

1ounce Stark Vatten vodka

1/2ounces Lillet Blanc

2 to 4dashes of saline solution

Garnish lemon peel

Glass: Chilled cocktail glass.

Tools: Shaker, strainer, peeler.

Combine all ingredients, add a scoop of ice, shake until it’s ice-cold, strain and garnish after zesting over glass.

Follow Hops and Sips on Twitter at www.twitter.com/hopsandsips. Contact Jessi Loerch at jloerch@heraldnet.com.

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