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Whiskymag 137 July _Aug 2016

The Ellensburg Distillery

Gold Buckle Club Frontier Malt Whisky

Wildcat Moonshine, White Whisky

The Gold Buckle Club malt whisky From The Ellensburg Distillery


Founded by two local businessmen

Berle "Rusty" Figgins, Jr. and Ralph Bullock, Jr.


Berle Figgins a career winemaker and viticulturist, experience gained in the family winery operation A Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Viticulture and Enology from an Australian university. Master distiller's professional certification from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling in London.  Most recently,  headed the Cave B Estate Winery near Quincy.  is the master distiller and production  manager.


Ralph Bullock, Jr. was involved in the  manufacturer of wood-finishing machinery, now a stillman and  supervises the business management.


The co-founders wanted to take full advantage of a new state law that was being proposed for the 2008 legislative session in Olympia.


The new law creates a new category of license for craft distillers, allowing producers of small batches of distilled spirits to sell their products where it is made. It also facilitated on-site tasting, similar to what is permitted at established micro-breweries and wineries.


The craft distillery bill was approved by the Washington State Legislature and signed by the governor on March 20 and becoing law July 1 2008. The Ellensburg Distillery was the second to seek licensing under the new bill, the first being Dry Fly Distilling in Spokane.


The new venture moved into its 1200-square-foot incubator building space in August 2007.  The distillery is working with its next-door neighbor, the Iron Horse Brewery, to craft a proprietary beer that will be distilled into whisky  This is a sugar-rich wash, or grain and water mash,    (All whiskies are basically grain-based spirits distilled from beer,brewed without hops.)  This co-operation creates quite a synergy between the two businesses, lowers the distillery overhead costs and also creates a new revenue stream for the neighboring business.


"We are getting very excited by the great potential we're seeing for the quality spirits that we will produce," Figgins recently said. "We believe the distillery will reflect the character and proud heritage of the Ellensburg area, and it will even conduct educational tours and tastings, which will add to the region's attractions."


About the whiskey's brand name, Figgins said he is the great-nephew of Berle B. Wilson, an American Cowboy Hall of Fame inductee. which hearkens back to the rodeo tradition of Kittitas Valley,


"The Gold Buckle Club malt whisky is a twice-distilled, single malt, single cask, which is bottled at cask strength. I use two-row Washington barley, along with crystal, caramel and chocolate malts. Maturation is in new  casks, and then used Sherry casks. Each bottle comes complete in a Douglas fir presentation box that has been hand sanded and fire-branded. Only 300 bottles per 225-litre cask, and each barrel is somewhat different, i.e., no co-mingling of casks exists in my programme."


First Batch

The Gold Buckle Club malt whisky, Washington's first single malt, was bottled on 07 November 2009.  Only 300 standard bottles are filled from a 225-litre whisky cask. It is a single-malt, single-barrel, cask-strength whisky that was filled, corked, labelled and sealed, all by hand, with each bottle being lovingly placed into a hand-made, fire-branded, Douglas fir gift box.  Each bottle is numbered and signed by the master distiller.


The Distillery also produces:


Wildcat White Moonshine, 

An unaged whiskey, Wildcat White is made from small batch, pot distilled mashes of Washington wheat, Washington malted barley, corn, and Irish Death, from the neighboring Iron Horse Brewery.


These batches are individually distilled and then are blended together to create an exceptionally complex and unique whiskey that is rich in flavor and incredibly smooth, straight from the still.


Miniature Two Litre Casks are available


The great complexity of the Wildcat White blend has the added bonus of once placed in the two litre casks turning very quickly into an aged whiskey of great distinction.


Casks can be used up to five times, the recommendation when aging Wildcat White is to remove and rebottle your first fill of the cask after three weeks of aging in the cask. Subsequent refills can be left to age longer to taste. Rule of thumb: three months in small cask is approximately equal to one year in a commercial cask.


EL CHALÁN - Peruvian-style brandy made from premium wine grapes


McFeely’ - Irish Style Cream Liqueur


Parallel 47 - "Old Number 47" whisky spirits infused with local herbs and sweetened with Kittitas Valley honey.


The brandy and Gold Buckle whisky took Gold Medal and Best of Type awards for spirits from the NorthWest Wine Summit in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

The Ellensburg Distillery

1000 North Prospect Street, Suite 3, Ellensburg, Washington 98926


Rusty Figgins offers VIP tours and tastings at The Ellensburg Distillery by appointment only. Call ahead at 509-925-1295 to schedule.

Editors Note: Not sure what is happening here The ellensburg distillery now only  refers to its Wildcat moonshie and whiste whiskey products with no reference to the Gold buckle Products -


Gold Buckle products web site is coming soon???