In August, Seattle’s own Sun Liquor announced that Alaska Airlines would start carrying mini bottles of its vodka, gin, and rum. During a recent trip to Hawaii on Alaska I turned to the in-flight menu to see what I could imbibe to help pass the time on the long flight (booze makes a great time accelerant) and found the spirits already on offer. It seemed like such a quick turnaround, upon returning home, I caught up with head distiller Erik Chapman to see how the partnership was going.
“At first we thought our organic, non-GMO product line would be too expensive for them, but no,” says Chapman, who says the Sun Liquor brand, owned by his boss and Top Pot guru Michael Klebeck, was often being approached by companies interested in partnering in some way.
“I don’t want to sound pretentious but we’re pretty choosy about this kind of stuff,” Chapman says. “But we like Alaska Airlines, they’re really down to earth, have the same ethos we have, and we know a lot of people who work there.”
Sun Liquor began officially supplying the Sea-Tac based airline with their booze September 1st, but quickly had to ramp up production. Most flights, says Chapman, didn’t have all three spirits on hand simultaneously until end of September. “The demand was a lot more than we [could] keep up with,” says Chapman. “We hired two new part-time employees and one full-time worker to help with the added production,” Chapman says, noting that the distillery acquired a new bottling facility just for that purpose—an old jeep manufacturer—across the street from its second location on E. Pike.
Additionally, the mini-bottles will become available to those not flying the friendly skies, too. “I believe they’re going to be putting them in liquor and grocery stores, but with all the new laws I don’t know when that will happen,” Chapman says. “We have little gift boxes of three that we sell here [at the distillery], and we’re probably going to be putting those together soon.”
Two words: stocking stuffers. Meanwhile, the next time you’re cruising Alaska at 30,000 feet, order Sun Liquor liberally and know your every sip will help boost the local economy. (Alaska Airlines also serves Washington-based Waterbrook wines and Beecher’s cheese.) And yes, Sun Liquor rum is fabulous, especially in a Mai Tai. (Bendistillery’s Crater Lake Espresso Hazelnut Vodka, pictured, also highly recommended!)