Shot in the Dark Distillery
One of the last places you would go looking for a handcrafted, small batch whiskey distillery would be at an airport. But here in Walla Walla, the airport district is full of surprises such as wheat fields, vineyards, wineries, breweries and yes, a distillery named Shot In The Dark. The name and logo were decided upon during a family meeting. They wanted the XXX to remind people of the old moonshine days, orange was Betsy’s favorite color and everyone agreed that starting this business was truly a shot in the dark.
The proprietors are Kevin and Betsy Hetterley who opened up shop here just over a year ago in what is known as the Incubators. Originally, the Incubators were designed to help wineries get their start with the help of State funding. When one of the five buildings became available, and no winery stepped forward, the Hetterleys moved in.
Apple Pie Moonshine?
Kevin began his passion for distilled spirits in 1991. His inspiration came in part from the history of American whiskey and the evolution of moonshine in the Pacific Northwest, but primarily from his father, who loved Kevin’s Apple Pie Moonshine that he made for holidays and special events. Kevin spent 20 years perfecting that recipe and promised his dad before his death that he would share it with the world. Kevin then worked an additional 3 years learning how to make corn whiskey. Now, Kevin is a Master Distiller and Betsy is the only licensed female Corn Whiskey Distiller in the USA.
The interior of Shot In The Dark is an extremely comfortable room with a fishing theme in tribute to Kevin’s father. In fact, his dad’s fishing pole, lures and vest are proudly hanging on the wall. I only wish Kevin had put up his favorite quote from his dad, “Hold me up boys, Grandma’s coming!”
True All-American Craft Distillery
What makes Shot In The Dark unique is that as a Craft Distillery, every aspect of the business has to be handled in-house including using only local products such as Washington corn and apples. Kevin lets nothing go to waste and recycles everything (even used wood chips go to his friend’s smoker) which results in an all “green” operation. He currently produces about 50 gallons a month but never wants to go above 100 gallons because of his pride in the Craft Distillery designation.
Kevin and Betsy offer four different types of moonshine with more to come. With names such as Blind Dog Moonshine (named after his own blind dog, Phoenix), Prohibition Moonshine (80 proof using medium toast American oak), Prohibition 101 Moonshine (101 proof using French oak) and Apple Pie Moonshine (check shotinthedarkdistilling.com for recipes), you know you’re about to feel warm and toasty.
It’s important to note that they don’t cook their mash, but instead allow it to ferment in the fermentation drums following the traditional process to make moonshine. To illustrate Kevin’s attention to tradition and detail, he spent 18 months researching for just the right still that was made in the USA. This is truly a great, All-American, traditional family operation if there ever was one.
So next time you’re at the Walla Walla Airport, fly high with a shot of family tradition and a lesson in Sip’N Shine! You’ll feel right at home!
Note: Shot in the Dark tasting room is open to the public Friday and Saturday afternoons and available for tasting by appointment every other day.
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