Captive Spirits Distilling, Seattle, WA

Captive Spirits Big Gin

The Feeder:

Captive Spirits Distilling

Established: 2010

What They Feed:

Gin & only gin: Big Gin, Bourbon Barreled Big Gin, Peat Barreled Big Gin & Barrel Reserve.

Where You Can Find Them:

On Site: At Captive Spirits, by appointment only.
Seattle Retail: Esquine, Capco, Central Market, Town & Country (Bainbridge) and many other small spirits retailers & liquor stores – over 3000 places around the US.
Wholesale: Available in 15 states & 7 countries. List of distributors.

Feeders They Supply:
Seattle Bars & Restaurants: Hattie’s Hat, Walrus & The Carpenter, Bastille, Hazelwood, Poppy, Herbs & Bitter, Zig Zag, Tom Douglas Restaurants
And over 5000 others across the country.

Their Story:

Ben Capdevielle came to Seattle by way of Omaha, NE and Fargo, ND. After a stint working in Yellowstone as a cook, he made his way West. Holly Robinson grew up in the agricultural community of Walla Walla. Ben and Holly spent much of their teens and twenties working in the service industry: Ben was bartending and Holly was a server and managed a few restaurants in Seattle. The industry brought them together and eventually they became inspired to start their own business.

Ben and Holly saw a gap in the American spirits market for a domestic traditionally made gin and decided to change that. Ben had fallen in love with distilling from his father, who was a second-generation distiller himself. Ben and Holly brought on business partners Todd Leabman and Erica Goodkind and Ben and Todd began developing a variety of juniper-forward gins.

After the initial business plan fell through in 2007, the partners regrouped and put together the most affordable business plan possible. They boot strapped the company, securing the space for the distillery in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood in 2010. The next year they sold their first bottle of gin.

All four partners continue to be part of the business: Ben is the head distiller, Todd as CFO, Holly manages the marketing and brand and Erica is the “highly loved” Compliance Officer. As with any small business, they all wear many hats.

True to their original intentions, Captive Spirits Distilling makes gin and only gin: Big Gin, Bourbon Barreled Big Gin, Peat Barreled Big Gin and Barrel Reserve, a three year aged gin. They also co-brand gin-centric products with other small producers, like a barreled tonic syrup, and unique barreled beers. Captive Spirits Distilling is one of the only gin-focused distilleries in the US.
Captive Spirits Big Gin
All of Captive Spirits’ gin is made in two identical 100 gallon pot stills. The stills are direct fired, which is rare nowadays, and the runs average 12 hours. They use a neutral corn spirit as a base, and source botanicals from the best places on earth, many of which are supplied by Mountain Rose Botanicals. Ben works closely with the brokers regarding methods of cultivation and harvest to ensure the highest quality product. Captive Spirits’ gin is botanical rich and citrus forward, making it a unique product, able to stand up to most any spirits and flavors.

Captive has really come into its own in the past few years. One of their favorite sayings is “never hurried, always on time.” They’ve grown slow and smart, working with opportunities as they are presented, which has also allowed them to meet and foster relationships with a wide range of people in the industry.

Captive Spirits is now available in 15 states and 7 countries. In 2014 their Bourbon Barreled Big Gin was the first (and still the only) American brand to take the trophy for the best contemporary gin at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London.
What Inspires:
“Anyone who has the drive to begin & support a small business has our vote. We try our best to support small companies in our daily lives, from what we eat to where we shop. This is not the easy route, only the most rewarding.”

Advice for New Feeders:
Pick something you truly love, because you will be in a full-blown, every-second, relationship with whatever it is.

Future Plans:
“We DO have a very exciting project in the works for Spring 2016. We will be moving into a new space in Ballard Interbay, just under Queen Anne in the shipyard. This will give Captive a few more sq ft, 28′ ceilings, and we will have a bit more storage. We will also be building out our tasting room program and retail from our space – something that has never been a big focus for us, since we haven’t had the manpower. There are a few other pretty awesome manufacturers in the same shipyard. We are excited for the potential.”


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