OLYMPIA, Wash. — The makers of Washington's iconic Olympia Beer are setting their sights on spirits with their latest product: Olympia Artesian Vodka.
Owners Ray Watson and Lesa Givens have been distilling for a decade, but their vodka didn't always have the eye-catching Olympia logo on the front.
A couple of years ago a customer altered their fate.
"I got an email from a guy who claimed to be the GM of Pabst Brewing Company that said, 'can we have a conversation?'" said Givens.
Pabst Brewing Company owns Olympia Beer. The conservation clearly went well, they became partners, began using the famous font and added in a special ingredient: artesian water.
“It’s the pure artesian water, and it’s the best,” said Givens.
They built a distillery in Tumwater, less than 10 minutes away from the old Olympia Brewery, which closed nearly 20 years ago.
“The Olympia brand was really built on the backs of people, hundreds of people, that worked at the Olympia Brewing Company in Tumwater,” said Givens.
The owners planned to launch Olympia Artesian Vodka in March, but then COVID-19 hit. They held off bottling vodka and instead started making hand sanitizer with the Olympia logo and horseshoe on front. They donated about 3,000 bottles.
“We didn’t start out to be in the hand sanitizer business, we got in the hand sanitizer business because there was a need, a real big need,” said Watson.
Vodka production then kicked into high gear and the Olympia brand clearly caught people's eye on store shelves.
“We loosely put a pallet out in the community in early May and it was gone overnight,” said Givens.
This year, the vodka won a silver medal at the New York International Spirits Competition.
The owners hope the sky's the limit when it comes to bringing the famous Olympia brand back to where it all began.
“The Olympia brand obviously started off as a beer brand and I think what we’re doing here with the Olympia Artesian Vodka is bringing it to the next generation,” said Givens.
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