Nano distilling raising the spirit bar


When was the last time the back bar of your favorite restaurant intrigued you? Have you sat down lately, leaned forward, took a sip of your favorite brand concocted cocktail and really studied the back bar? Try it the next time you having a cocktail. You are in for a surprise if your bar’s manager is paying attention to one of the hottest sectors in the food and beverage business sector today, Nano Distillery Brands.

I’m sure restaurant owners are becoming more aware daily of the new brands appearing on the regional markets across the country. Yet, in order for this sector of the artisan purveyor’s market to succeed, spirit aficionados need to take notice of what is happening down the street, around the corner, or, on the other side of the bar.  Everywhere. It makes sense. It is one of the few markets that artisan manufacturers have penetrated with any noticeable presence.

That is changing.

Nano distilleries are not new. But, the bar – no pun intended – has been raised by new entries into the marketplace.

Napa Valley Distillery is one of the most highly regarded distilleries in California. Their array of brands of barrel aged cocktails, along with their other spirits is a barman’s dream. Their entry into the market would surely elevate back bars across the country.

Meriwether Distilling Co. is distilling in the Nano market. And, Speakeasy Vodka is getting super sipping reviews as it enters the Seattle market. Joining a long line of brewers and craftsman dating back to the pre-prohibition era, Meriwether’s distilling team creates their brand at the Original Rainier Brewery in the Georgetown district of Seattle.

Speakeasy Vodka was Meriwether’s first launch and the brand is receiving rave reviews.

I met the owner and distiller, Whitney Meriwether while having a cyberspace conversation about crowd funding. I believe we should know the creators of all things edible. For one who loves Martini’s I was fascinated with Meriwether’s story.

He dreamt of a business, majored in it, learned of distilling while touring Europe and returned to Seattle. Not to open a distillery.

Eventually, Speakeasy Vodka posted a project on and that’s when I heard the story about the brand. But the real story is about the man behind the brand.

In May 2008, Meriwether donated 62% of his liver to a family member suffering from terminal bile duct cancer.

“This kind of life altering event brings everything into perspective”, Meriwether said.  During recovery, Whitney and his recipient John, spent weeks recuperating in the same living room together. Both having an entrepreneurial spirit, they regularly discussed the possibility of distilling their own liquor. The idea stuck and after several years of research and planning, Whitney decided it was time to open a distillery.

Today, Meriwether is expanding into a variety of small artisan brands. The future looks bright. And, with the growth of Meriwether Distilling and other companies like them, your back bar will be looking brighter, also.

John Foley is Publisher of

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