Big Flavor Comes from Small Things: Woodinville’s Copper Cat Distillery

by | Apr 19, 2023

Located in Woodinville’s Warehouse District, just a five minute drive from the Downtown District, lives the nano-sized Copper Cat Distillery. So small, it’s easy to miss. But if you’re an alcohol adventurer, you’ll want to seek out this distillery’s unique spirits — and sample a few cocktails in their tasting room.

Copper Cat Distillery is owned and operated by Jesse Lebow and Bing Wu, husband and wife, who act as the distilling and marketing personnel, respectively. Already a narrow space, the depth of their distillery and tasting room, together, is roughly 75 feet. Of that, only about 20 feet makes up the tasting room.

“Our philosophy has never been that we were going to be huge,” says Lebow. “In fact, on top of our bottles we have the slogan, ‘not the biggest, just your favorite.’”

Per year, Copper Cat makes about 1,200 proof gallons of brandy, gin, vodka and whiskey, qualifying them as a nano-distillery. Should they ever choose to distill more, they’d still have a long way to go — distilleries can make 50,000 proof gallons before they no longer qualify as a nano-distillery.

Still, Lebow says they have no intention to expand. Instead, the duo wants to focus on making quality liquor and providing an exemplary customer experience. “It’s more important to us that people enjoy our experience,” Lebow says. “I want to meet everyone.”

Copper Cat’s tasting room may be less than palatial, but that makes it all the more inviting and intimate. And for alcohol adventurers, you’re sure to find distilled products that are truly unique. For example, the aquavit, lovingly known as “Viking Gin,” is 100% grape-based. The apple-based Nine Lives Gin is distilled to a slightly higher ABV than most of Copper Cat’s offerings  — 90 proof — so that, when shaken in a martini, it won’t taste diluted.

Within the past week, Copper Cat released a hazelnut shell–smoked single-malt American whiskey. There’s only one barrel of this limited release, exclusive to their “Whisky Club,” so if you want to put your lips to some of these intriguing one-offs, you’ll need to become a member.

But what sparks the most attention is their flagship gin: Batch No. 2. This 100% grape-based gin boasts 12 botanicals, with szechuan peppercorn being the key ingredient. “It almost has a numbing sensation, it’s spicy like your tummy is vibrating,” Lebow explains.

While in Shanghai, China, where he met Wu, Lebow fell in love with the pepper. He likes to use it in his gin because he wants to create a martini that is “dry with a little tingle and is interesting.”

Indeed, all of the spirits at Copper Cat are interesting. But, just as the space is tiny and intimate, so are the hours of operation. Only on the weekends can guests sample Copper Cat’s liquors and five hand-crafted cocktails. 

Copper Cat Distillery
19151 144th Avenue NE, Space H
Woodinville, Washington


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