BOTHELL — Erik Liedholm is, by his own admission, not a patient guy.
That works fine for the gin and vodka he’s been making since Wildwood Spirits Co. opened in late 2015. But when it comes to whiskey, age is king and patience is a necessity.
Liedholm has been — patiently — waiting for the first batch of whiskey he made soon after Wildwood opened in 2015. That whiskey, The Dark Door, is now ready after two years of aging in oak barrels. And it’s worth the wait.
“We are really happy with it,” Liedholm recently said from Wildwood’s well-appointed tasting room off Beardslee Boulevard in Bothell. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. We just wanted to make a better version of whiskey than you’d expect.”
Wildwood and The Dark Door trace their roots back to Liedholm’s childhood home in East Lansing, Michigan. The name of the whiskey refers to the large wooden door that greets visitors to Liedholm’s parents’ house in the Michigan college town — the label’s artwork is a drawing of the house’s actual door — and the distillery was named for the street Liedholm grew up on.
Not only does Liedholm trace his roots back to his time in East Lansing, but some of his spirits go there as well. Liedholm has been working with Michigan State University professor Kris Berglund, who oversees an artisan distilling program at the university, to perfect his distilled spirits. Liedholm sends him samples of his gin, vodka and whiskey, has Berglund break down the chemical makeup of the spirit and give him feedback.
The ingredients of The Dark Door are hugely important to Liedholm. He sources organic and non-GMO corn and wheat from Washington, and uses oak barrels made by a wine cooperage that grows and fells trees responsibly. Liedholm said that the interplay between the oak and the whiskey is just as important as the ingredients when it comes to giving whiskey its character.
As for the finished product, The Dark Door is a rich, flavorful whiskey that goes down smooth. Liedholm suggested making a Manhattan out of it, but it’s a real sipper that I’d have either neat or over a big cube of ice.
Most of the 200 bottles released at the beginning of March are sold out, but Liedholm said that they are taking pre-orders at www.wildwoodspiritsco.com/shoponline for the next batch release in late May. Bottles are $50 plus tax.
On the taster tray
Dock Juice, Lake Stevens Brewing: Made with flaked grains and Amarillo and Mosaic hops, this IPA has the hop profile of LSB’s Big Dock IPA and juice characteristic of its Juicy Fiction. Available on tap at the brewery.
Triple Double, Skookum Brewery: Made with rye and Amarillo, Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe and Nugget hops, this double IPA has notes of citrus, candied mango, papaya and orange blossom honey. Available on tap at the brewery.
The Dark Door
Wildwood Distillery, Bothell
Style: Wheated bourbon
Stats: 45 percent alc., 90 proof
Available: 750 milliliter bottles at the distillery
From the distillery: Handcrafted in small batches using locally sourced organic ingredients, The Dark Door was aged to perfection in carefully selected oak barrels.