by Carolyn Tamler
Rod and Kathy Stallman decided several years before retiring that they wanted to have a “retirement business,” to stay busy by creating a business that would allow them to pursue a dream. Mutiny Bay Distillery is the culmination of their vision and, with the recent addition of their son Scott to the team, they are now a family business.
In May 2017, the first bottles of Mutiny Bay Distillery whiskeys and liqueurs became available for purchase at their tasting room and in several stores on Whidbey Island. The Stallmans say that “distilled spirits production involves a unique mix of science and art,” and they hope to share each of those components with customers visiting the distillery.
The Stallmans are long-time Whidbey residents. They moved to the island from Seattle in 1995 because they wanted to raise their two sons in the community here. They note that their family has benefited from good neighbors and good schools. They both worked as pharmacists at Lind’s Pharmacy for over 20 years. Being pharmacists provided a sound background in chemistry that has aided them in their current business.
Their plan to create a distillery was given its first push when the State of Washington enacted its Craft Distillery law in 2006 making their small distillery business possible.
In 2011 they leased an unused horse barn on Cameron Road in Freeland that they renovated and are now using for their distillery and tasting room. They attended conferences and classes but the main education has been “on the job training.”
From 2011 to 2013, they worked on their building and the development of their products. Rod says, “We wanted to sell whiskey that was aged to perfection after being in barrels for several years, and we didn’t want to open our doors for sales until we had an aged whiskey ready to sell.”
The first whiskey they offered was the 3-year “Palouse Gold,” wheat whiskey (the first aged whiskey to be made on Whidbey Island), followed by their triple-distilled “Bayside” wheat whiskey and “Sweet Lulu” whiskey liqueur. The latter is unique – a liqueur that captures the traditional whiskey flavors from the grain and the barrel, but is sweeter and lower alcohol than a whiskey. They hope it might appeal to many who thought they would never like drinking whiskey. This summer they released Blueberry Liqueur made with local blueberries from Mutiny Bay Blues, and Coffee Liqueur made with locally blended and roasted coffee from Useless Bay Coffee Company.
Scott, who has a degree in Civil Engineering, moved from his engineering job in Seattle a few months ago to join his parents in their business. Aside from the pleasure of having their son work with them, Kathy notes he is a valuable addition: “Rod and Scott are both super tasters who really know when a product is ready for bottling.”
The Stallmans believe in the uniqueness of their products. Kathy explains, “These days it is becoming harder to find distilleries that hand-make their products from scratch the way we do.” She adds, “We love sharing our small-batch process with interested customers.”
The Stallmans’ vision for Mutiny Bay Distillery is to continue to make small batches using aged liquor. Rod says, “Every step of our production is done the slow, hard way –by hand.”
Even though their products take more time and work to produce, they are keeping their prices competitive with other craft distilleries. They hope to expand their production, but not at the expense of their hand-made, small-batch quality. They want to be socially responsible as well, buying from local suppliers and recycling the water, grain and heat used in the manufacture of the products. Their spent grain is given to the farmer down the road for his pigs, and they are working on others ways to have their spent ingredients recycled and used for fertilizers and other purposes.
Mutiny Bay whiskeys and liqueurs are available for purchase at their tasting room at 5490 Cameron Road, in Freeland, Thursday through Monday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. They also offer tours of their facility. Products are also sold at several grocery and liquor stores on South Whidbey. Give them a call at 360-331-3797, or you can email Rod, Kathy or Scott at mutinybaydistillery.com.