Following its acquisition by Moët Hennessy North America last summer, Woodinville Whiskey Company (WWC) announced another milestone in its business plan in April 2018. WWC is expanding its distribution outside of local markets into California and, later this year, into Oregon.
Co-founder Orlin Sorensen cites the exponential growth of the craft American whiskey movement over the last decade for WWC’s ability to expand into new markets. Being under the umbrella of Moët Hennessy, a company that is hundreds of years old, helps secure WWC’s legacy for years to come.
Sorensen and his business partner Brett Carlile are also longtime friends. Before founding WWC, the friends would hang out (sipping whiskey, of course) and discuss their “American Dream” — owning a business, controlling their own destiny. In 2008, they read an article about a law changing to allow craft distilleries, and they jumped on the chance, cashing in everything they had to start WWC.
They opened in 2010, selling vodka and un-aged whiskey with DIY un-aged kits while they began producing their flagship product — 5-year aged bourbon and rye whiskeys. In 2015, they finally released their first signature 5-year Straight American Bourbon, which immediately took home “Whiskey of the Year” in 2016 by the American Distilling Institute. The 5-year Straight Rye followed suit the next year with a “Best Rye Whiskey.”
Sorensen says their sales have always been limited by available inventory — demand exceeds supply, so they would have been expanding anyway regardless of the sale to Moët Hennessy. WWC is currently the largest distillery in the state.