Bad Dog Distillery makes liquor the old fashioned way

Distilling is in Dave McGlothern’s blood.

The Arlington man comes from a long line of men who — allegedly — had stills in the woods surrounding rural Snohomish County in the 1960s and ’70s. They ran liquor all across the Northwest, and had the fast cars and bullet holes to prove it. Some of them also had rap sheets.

McGlothern, on the other hand, has gone legit. He and his wife, Shelly, opened Bad Dog Distillery in Arlington at the beginning of this year, focusing on old-fashioned liquors, whiskeys and vodka.

“Part of the reason we did this was to keep him out of jail,” Shelly said, laughing.

So far so good. McGlothern has taken the things he learned from his grandfather and uncles and put it to good use. Knowledge passed down by four generations of bootleggers has given McGlothern an intuitive feel for making moonshine.

“He has a real natural instinct for it,” Shelly said. “He can tell the proof by just sticking a finger in and tasting it.”

Bad Dog Distillery will be offering samples of its array of drinks at Proof: Washington Distillers Festival on July 11 in Seattle. Here’s a look at Bad Dog’s liquors:

Grandpa’s Likker

Everything starts with Grandpa’s Likker, which is based on recipe of Dave’s grandfather. This corn whiskey is 90 proof and is the base for most of the liquors Bad Dog produces. “If you have a good base you can make cat crap taste good,” McGlothern says. And this stuff is good. It’s sweet and smooth and has a nice heat without too much burn. It’s the base for Bad Dog’s whiskeys and Apple Pie. Soon they will also be releasing a black licorice liquor and a cinnamon whiskey, and a 130-proof version of Grandpa’s Likker.


Grandpa’s Likker is the base for both Bad Dog’s whiskeys, which comes in a darker and a lighter version. Both are smooth and there’s sweetness from the corn mash along with flavors of butterscotch and vanilla.

Apple Pie

When it comes to mixing liquors, McGlothern likes to keep it simple. “If we have to put in more than three ingredients we’re not going to make it,” McGlothern said. Apple Pie is a perfect example of this. McGlothern mixes Grandpa’s Likker with pasteurized apple cider and cinnamon. No sugars, cloves or pumpkin spice.


McGlothern wasn’t initially going to make a vodka, but it’s a good thing he changed his mind. This is not a flavorless vodka. Bad Dog’s vodka has a subtle wheat flavor and hints of butterscotch and caramel in the finish. McGlothern filters it three times through activated charcoal to remove the contaminates. Bad Dog is working on vanilla and chipotle vodkas.

Aaron Swaney: 425- 339-3430; Twitter: @swaney_aaron79. Follow the Hops and Sips blog at

Bad Dog Distillery

19109 63rd Ave. NE, Arlington, 360-435-3981,

Hours: Noon to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday

Proof of Washington

Seattle’s largest summer distillery event, Proof: Washington Distillers Festival, is July 11 at Fremont Studios, 155 N 35th St, Seattle. Sample award-winning spirits from Northwest distilleries. Tickets are $40 and includes 10 tasting tokens, and VIP tickets are $60 and include an extra hour of tasting, two additional tasting tokens and a VIP swag bag. Fore more information, visit To buy tickets, visit

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