Wallingford Retailer Offers a New World for Local and Imported Spirits

A.J. Rathbun
David LeClaire, owner of the newly renamed Wine World and Spirits

As mentioned in numerous news stories, articles, Tweets, placards, and even an earlier blog post, the booze-selling landscape changes that were voted in WA have actually taken place, taking the selling of spirits and such out of the hands of the state.

This is, for any imbibers, a big event. My guess is that things will continue to shake out for a few years as everyone gets used to the changes (and tries to figure out the laws and such). Which means it’s going to be an interesting (and perhaps even shaky) time for home cocktail enthusiasts and party throwers throughout the state.

And it’s a bit weird, too. Browsing the aisles at the Safeway nearest to me in upper Ballard, it just seems strange to see an aisle for spirits and liqueurs and their ilk not far from the milk and cheese. But that aisle of high-proof bottles was already popular, though mostly at the time with some fellas that looked like they weren’t too far into the drinking age, and who were mostly looking for low prices on the most mainstream of corporate names: Bacardi, Jack Daniels, etc.

Across a few neighborhoods at Wine World and Spirits (with the latter part of the name recently added), owner David LeClaire is going for a different experience. He’s aiming to add every locally-made local spirit and liqueur that’s available (with brands like Woodinville Whiskey, Sidetrack, Sound Spirits, Voyager Gin, and lots of others in evidence) as well as wide assortment of more beguiling imported and domestic brands, with a goal of 2,000 unique products—currently, he’s at 1,100.

A quick browse found some dreamy labels from all over the world  that weren’t easily tracked down before the changes in law, including the lovely Novo Fogo cachaca from Brazil (shown below), Compass Box’ Spice Tree intriguing blended scotch, and a blooming array of Pür fruit liqueurs from Germany (shown above).

While I’m definitely excited about the larger selection, it’s Wine World and Spirits' other initiatives that I think will help to set it apart from the large chain stores. First off, they have two larger rooms and a more intimate room aside from the shopping for classes, tastings, and other events like a recent charity auction for the Hilltop Children’s Center. Mr. LeClaire says that he really wants people to “look at the space as part of the community.” They also have a wide assortment of drink-making equipment, books, magazines, glassware, and more that help make the store feel more like a full resource for home-entertainers and adventurous drinkers looking to make, and have, tastier drinks.

With the changes in the law, prices have gone up due to fresh fees and taxes introduced to help balance out the lack of dollars coming in to the state after they were moved out of the spirit-selling business. These may potentially go down in two years, but no one knows anything for sure, yet.

What does seem sure is that new spirit sellers will be moving into two categories: those looking to move the most recognizable brands and those who want to provide people with a wider selection, more convenience, and more community than before. That, I think, is well worth toasting.

Wine World, Wallingford, 400 NE 45th St., 206.402.6086, wineworldwarehouse.com