By Margo Greenman
Just as “every spirit has a story,” so does every distiller. Or, at least that’s the case with Heritage Distilling Company’s head distiller, Dain Grimmer.
When now 26-year-old Dain graduated from Washington State University with a degree in economics, he had never worked in a distillery. He was just another economics major in search of a job.
After graduating, Dain returned to his hometown of Gig Harbor where he began hunting for a job. Dain was expecting to put his education to work somewhere like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the world had other plans in store.
During a quarter studying abroad, Dain developed an interest in craft beverages after swapping some small batch spirits he had brought with him to Italy with a local bartender. In exchange, the bartender shared with Dain samples of several other spirits. The economics major’s palate quickly grew — Dain was thirsty for more.
Later on during his time abroad, Dain traveled to Ireland where he visited and took a tour of the world renowned Old Jameson Distillery. His interest was again piqued and a new hobby formed.
When Dain returned to Washington, he was eager to graduate, find a job, and begin exploring more of the local beers, wines, and spirits being brewed, vinted and distilled in his home-state.
While craft beverages were a hobby for Dain, he hadn’t considered making a career of it until an 8 ½- by 11-inch piece of paper pinned to the door of a soon-opening distillery in Gig Harbor reading “Now Hiring” inspired the young college grad to investigate further. Heritage Distilling Company had not yet opened when Dain logged onto their website (which was already up and running) to learn more. Inspired and in need of an income, Dain decided to email owners Justin and Jennifer Stiefel with his résumé.
Washington State had only recently legalized the production of craft spirits when Dain discovered Heritage Distilling Company’s help wanted sign, but, like craft brewing, small batch distilling was already becoming a fast growing industry in the Evergreen state. Not having any previous experience, Dain says his application was a shot in the dark, but he didn’t have anything to lose. A few months later Dain was hired to help cleanup at night after owner Justin and now sales rep Matt Rockness had finished distilling for the day.
“I started out part-time cleaning out the mash bin,” says Dain. “When we started growing, I started bottling, doing tastings in the tasting room, and helping out with My Batch. That’s where I really started learning the whole distillation aspect.”
Heritage Distilling Company’s My Batch program is currently the only of its kind in the country. The three-hour class is held one to two times each month and teaches participants about the distilling process from beginning to end, giving people the opportunity to legally distill their own spirits on an Italian-made still. Dain was learning and leading people through the program while simultaneously being trained how to distill on a bigger scale. After shadowing Justin and Matt and learning how to use Heritage Distilling Company’s impressive Italian copper still, Nonna, at just 24-years-old, Dain assumed the position of head distiller.
While some might say destiny was at play when the craft spirit-loving economics major unknowingly stumbled upon his dream job that one fateful day several years ago, Dain will modestly tell you that he just happened to be at the right place at the right time.
In the two years that Dain has been head distiller, Heritage Distilling Company has swiftly expanded with more products and even a new location. “We started with three spirits,” says Dain. “We now have thirty.” With more products and more customers, Heritage Distilling Company opened a second tasting room in downtown Gig Harbor earlier last year to better accommodate the high demand.
As Heritage Distilling Continues to grow, Dain is excited to be a part of the process. With the recent opening of their downtown tasting room, a new line of flavored vodkas, and even some collaborations with local companies like Ice Cream Social and RC Almonds, Dain is looking forward to what Heritage Distilling Company’s future holds. “There has never been a dull moment,” he says. “We’ve been slowly, exponentially growing. Everything has just been taking off.”
You can learn more about Heritage Distilling Company by visiting its Website here, stepping into one of its two Gig Harbor locations for a tasting, or by purchasing a bottle of one of their many handcrafted spirits at one of these locations.
Heritage Distlling Company
Distillery, Flagship Location
3207 57th Ct. NW
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
Monday – Wednesday: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday – Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Waterfront Tasting Room
3118 Harborview Drive
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
Monday – Wednesday: 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Thursday – Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m – 6:00 p.m.