Food & Drink

Their Spirits Were Not Broken

Ballard’s only distillery finally opens after years of setbacks

By Rob Smith March 15, 2024

Head Distiller Mikael Taib alongside owner Erik Liedholm

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

John Howie and Erik Liedholm couldn’t have anticipated the hurdles they’d have to overcome to open Wildwood Distillery in the heart of Ballard’s Brewery District.

Covid caused multiple delays in the fabrication of their stills in Germany. A 140-day concrete workers strike created more chaos during build-out, as did city permitting issues. Much of their equipment burned to the ground in a Kent warehouse fire.

It’s almost enough to drive one to drink, but after years of setbacks, the only distillery in the booming Brewery District held its grand opening last month.

The location was intentional, but not for reasons you might think. Sure, spillover crowds from beer lovers help, but Liedholm lives only four blocks away. Some of the ingredients in Wildwood’s craft whiskeys, gins, vodkas, and other offerings come from Liedholm’s backyard.

Distiller serving Wildwood craft whiskeys at the Ballard tasting room

Courtesy of Wildwood Spirits Co.

“Besides, the commute, we love Ballard’s vibrancy and true neighborhood vibe,” says Liedholm, the wine director for Howie’s restaurants, including John Howie Steak, Seastar, and Beardslee Public House. “It doesn’t hurt that we are surrounded by great breweries and restaurants.”

Wildwood’s offerings can be found in restaurants, hotels, and retailers throughout the Northwest, including at Howie’s restaurants. National expansion will come next year. The Ballard distillery will increasingly focus on producing bourbon.

Wildwood also operates a small tasting room in Bothell.

Follow Us

Hoppy and Happy

Hoppy and Happy

Seattle Beer Week returns for its 15th year

I was enjoying a pint at my favorite Ballard brewery when I noticed the advertising flyer for the upcoming Seattle Beer Week. 

Getting Tanked in Pioneer Square

Getting Tanked in Pioneer Square

Seattle’s first ‘tank bar’ set to open early next year

Let’s skip the keg and get straight to the beer. The city’s first tank bar will soon open in the Pioneer Square neighborhood.

Fremont Brewing Sold

Fremont Brewing Sold

The popular Seattle brewer is joining forces with Pike Brewing

Seattle Hospitality Group has acquired a controlling interest in Seattle’s Fremont Brewing, three years after it acquired another iconic Seattle company, Pike Brewing.

Seattle’s Best Fireside Bars 

Seattle’s Best Fireside Bars 

Sip your way through winter at the city’s coziest spots

Seattle is in the heart of its dark, damp, and gloomy stretch — a season that leaves you chilled from the inside out. With plummeting temperatures and near constant drizzle, it can feel challenging to work up the motivation to step outside.