Washington State had not seen a distillery for nine decades when friends Kent Fleischmann and Don Poffenroth, while out on a river in Montana “enjoying” a bottle of vodka, had an idea—to start their very own distilling company right here in their hometown of Spokane. Combined with the fact that the area had remarkable agricultural resources to offer, the pair knew they had a winning plan.
“Jumping off the entrepreneurial cliff was the hardest, yet most satisfying thing to do,” says Kent.
Both left their full-time corporate jobs and drafted a bill that would make distilling legal in Washington state, not only providing Spokane with a new local distillery, but the entire state with a new industry.
The transition was quick; Kent and Don started exploring the idea in 2006, and just one year after the initial idea had emerged, Dry Fly Distilling was incorporated. The first product they produced was their vodka, closely followed by gin. Today, they make nearly a dozen whiskeys, most of which have yet to be bottled. All spirits are aged in 53-gallon American oak barrels, which according to Don, is a tried-and-true traditional approach to producing world-class spirits.
In the beginning, Kent admits it was difficult for them to produce a consistent, quality product, which they did refine fairly quickly when it came to the vodka and gin. When it came to the whiskey, it was a much more difficult process due to the barrel aging.
“We are very happy with where our spirits are now,” says Kent. “And the best things we have done have yet to see a bottle.”
Over the years, Dry Fly has competed against some of the best in the world, earning more national and international awards for its product quality than any other small distillery in the United States.
Years of hard work and “a bit of silly luck” have brought Dry Fly Distilling to where it is today. They are excited about market-based collaborations, such as the Locally Crafted Bar at the Spokane Arena that features local libations such as One Tree cider, Townshend Cellar wine, Iron Goat beer and Dry Fly spirits.
Don and Kent truly believe that the Spokane community is responsible for the continued success of their operation. As Don says, “Spokane defines Dry Fly.” The pair looks forward to continuing their relationship with their home community through special events and classes. And of course, the Dry Fly team is always developing concepts and future versions of Dry Fly. The local community is excited to taste what’s next.
Dry Fly Distilling
1003 E. Trent Ave.