It was a trip to the Highlands and Speyside regions of Scotland and a family’s love for homebrewing that inspired Matt Glenn and his parents to start their own distillery, Highside Distilling, on Bainbridge Island.
Originally from Issaquah, Glenn and his parents, Jeff and Helen, have always shared a love of home brewing and a passion for the craft beverage industry. The Glenns have deep roots in Issaquah — Helen and Jeff ran the Sammamish Learning Center for 20 years and Matt grew up through Pine Lake Middle School and graduated from Issaquah High School in 2006.
A few years after Matt graduated from college and had been living in Boston, the family decided they wanted to share their craft with others.
The journey to open a new distillery has been a long and difficult road for the Glenns. Since 2014, the family did their homework, developed a business plan, went back to school, and began shaping the concept of what Highside Distilling was to become.
Visits to Scotland in 2015 and 2017 further clarified their vision and confirmed their passion for making craft spirits that were rooted in tradition, particularly those of Single Malt Whiskey and Amaro.
“Our family has always had a strong belief in the positive impact of memories created over a shared meal or drink,” Matt said. “This inspired us to embark on our journey to create a product and experience that represents our home region and can be shared with family and friends anywhere in the world.”
Highside Distilery’s mission is to provide a uniquely Pacific Northwest experience to the time-honored craft of fermentation, distillation and aging of spirits.
Matt said all of their products are “a nod to tradition,” but includes a touch of a Pacific Northwest modern style.
The inspiration behind opening a distillery on Bainbridge Island was “happenstance,” Matt said.
Since his parents retired, they moved to a home in Silverdale. Matt, now living in Fremont, said they wanted to find a place that would have a supportive community and was somewhat between the two locations.
“Bainbridge has turned out to be the perfect place for us,” Matt said. “It’s a smaller community that’s very supportive of all things craft.”
Highside Distillery officially opened its doors Nov. 23 and are currently open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“We’ve been working hard over the past three years and just released our first product, an apple-based gin,” Matt said. “We’ve also got amaro, fernet, whiskey and other spirits in the works now, which should be released over the coming months and years. It’s been an exciting journey with buildout, licensing, and product development, but we’re finally here.”