Spirit Works Distillery in Sebastopol is celebrating its fifth anniversary this month. It’s marking the occasion with an open-house-style party on Saturday, June 2 from 12 to 4 p.m. at its location in the Barlow.
The last five years have been a wild, exhilarating ride, according to Ashby Marshall, who owns the company with her husband Timo.
“It’s a labor of love,” she said. “But happily it’s a labor of love that’s paid off. We’re now in over 1,500 restaurants and stores, mostly in California, but we also have a small presence in Illinois, Colorado, and Arizona.”
Two things surprised her about running their own business—the enormous time commitment and the way their small workforce has grown to feel like family.
“Nothing can prepare you for the time commitment of running your own company,” she said. “We’re always here, and if anything goes wrong, it’s up to us to deal with it. But it’s actually a mark of how far we’ve come that, these days, Timo and I actually get a day off now and then. That’s thanks in large part to our amazing staff. We’re a small company with very few employees, but I’ve really been surprised and gratified by the enthusiasm and commitment they bring every day. It really feels like a family, and we’re proud of that.”
Ashby was the company’s original distiller, but, as the company grew, she moved into a management role. Finding a new distiller—the right distiller—was a tremendous challenge and a crucial transition time for the new business.
“We were so fortunate to find Lauren Patz,” Ashby said. “She has the passion and the palate and the creativity to take our vision and run with it. She just keeps producing amazing things.”
Two of those amazing things will be on offer at the party on Saturday. Tasting room manager Amanda Graziano said that the company is celebrating this anniversary with the release of two new whiskies: a triticale whiskey and a 4-year wheat whisky.
“The triticale is a hybrid of wheat and rye that really offers the best of both worlds,” Graziano said. “There are poached pear notes and tri-spice, and the triticale comes from a local source, Front Porch Farms in Healdsburg. The 4-year wheat whisky is bottled in bond at 100 proof. It’s super-caramelized and really easy to drink.”
During the party, they’ll be doing tastings of the new whiskies in the tasting bar, and in the distilling room, they’ll be offering mini-cocktails based on the new whiskies, as well as a gin botanical bar.
If you’ve ever dreamt of being a distiller yourself, you might want to sign up ahead of time for the trivia game that’ll be happening during the event. The winner gets to help in the creation of the company’s famous sloe gin.
Tickets to the party are just $5. You can get them at Eventbrite or at the door. Spirit Works Distillery is located in the Barlow at 5790 McKinley St., Sebastopol.