SEATTLE -- The government shutdown is affecting local distillers, who say its effects could be felt for months or even a year after the government reopens.
AJ Temple runs Temple Distilling in Lynnwood, a family operation with him and his wife, and a second home of sorts with their young boy’s toys sitting near the large stills.
“I’ve been destroying the kitchen since I was five so it’s been a transition doing that with the spirit now instead of with food, just a passion of mine,” said Temple. “We’re making gin, we’re happy, we’re living the dream.”
They’ve been developing the dream for the past three years.
“We’ve been growing 70 percent year over year,” said Temple.
Specializing in gin, he says they put out about 300 to 500 cases per year and have been expanding business outside of Washington state into Idaho and Montana. They were about to break into the Colorado market until the government shutdown happened.
"We’re now told it will be two to three months at least, maybe longer because of the backlog of that,” said Temple.
He says their licensing to operate in Colorado has been halted because of the shutdown, something he says usually takes a couple of weeks at most.
“We doubled our warehouse space to the space next door, so our rent is double and we’re not seeing the income we expected,” said Temple.
With more than 100 distilleries registered in Washington state, “We were the first distiller to open in Seattle after prohibition,” said Steven Stone, owner and distiller at Sound Spirits.
He’s been through a few shutdowns before, but none this long.
“It’s not often people can say they’ve made whiskey in their lifetime,” said Stone, who says Sound Spirits is his side hustle. He works at Boeing and formerly at NASA.
As a more established distiller he says the business is a lot like what he named his gin, “Ebb + Flow.”
"Lots of ups and downs and we feel with a lot of passion and hard work we can make it work in the end,” said Stone.
Temple says he hopes the end of the shutdown comes soon so he won’t have to go another month losing money.
"We’re looking at $5,000 to $10,000 a month and going up from there,” said Temple, adding that he wonders if distillers may pass losses to consumers.
“It’s possible,” he said.