There’s a new venue in town for Plateau whiskey fans.
Pursuit Distilling, an Enumclaw outfit specializing in whiskeys and vodka, has expanded their operations to a new tasting room on Railroad Avenue. The local distillers are banking on the thriving Cole Street recreation scene to show their locally-crafted spirits some love.
The new tasting room officially opened March 24, uncorking around a year of work to get the sleek, two-story space open in time for the summer. The upper floor is decked out with a second, smaller bar and TV screen for events and private parties.
Wedged between Cole and Railroad Streets and Myrtle and Marshall Avenues, the tasting room opens up to the alleyway via a large garage-style door, allowing outside light to pour into the amber-and-black industrial logging-themed venue.
The Pursuit team spent nearly a year gutting and preparing the property, including removing part of the second floor to open the space up, co-owner Tyler Teeple said.
Pursuit’s much smaller, original tasting room was at their distillery a few blocks north up Cole Street in a more industrial part of town. They’ll keep distilling there and use that tasting room for private events and their private barrel club, Teeple said.
In the meantime, the new Railroad Ave. tasting room — which Pursuit is renting from property owner and former city attorney Mike Reynolds — is open for booze-ness, serving traditional standbys along with more novel drinks like their cold brew whiskey.
“It’s where all the activity is in Enumclaw,” Teeple said. “It’s where people spend a lot of our time, and we knew we needed to be down here. We knew we had good products and could make great cocktails. We did decent at that other location, but we knew we could do a lot better with a better location and space.”
Don’t go in expecting beer or wine. The tasting room is for Pursuit to show off their hard spirits and cocktails, though they encourage patrons to bring in food from outside.
Pursuit plans to release a housemade gin within the next few weeks, and Teeple said a few of their spirits will be releasing in Washington Safeways and QFCs this April.
Teeple, 42, is co-owner of Pursuit along with his brother-in-law Sam Agnew, who lives in Kansas.
“I kind of discovered whiskey in college, like a lot of people did,” Teeple, a Pacific Lutheran University grad, said with a laugh. “I got married, and that’s when Sam came into the picture.”
The market shifted in their favor in 2011, when Washington voters approved ballot Initiative 1183. That privatized liquor sales and distribution in Washington state, ending the state’s monopoly on the industry and opening the floodgates for small and big-time entrepreneurs to pop up their own spirit operations.
The company started with the name White River Distillers but eventually landed on the name Pursuit.
“I feel like that’s really what we’re doing,” Teeple said. We’re in pursuit of growing a company, trying to make the best whiskey possible. … It was just one of those natural fits.”
They opened the doors in 2018, kicking things off with vodka and the “Suspect” flavored whiskey line.
Until recently, distillers like Pursuit were also barred from serving more than 2 ounces of alcohol per customer, per day. Changes to that law, back in 2020 and 2021, played a role in encouraging Pursuit’s new expansion, as well as the recent loosening of their retail taxes.
“We always loved our site over there, but we knew there was a ceiling to it,” Pursuit’s general manager Cory Johnson said. “When those laws started changing over, naturally we starting thinking ‘Alright, let’s expand it.’”
The next steps for Pursuit might include expanding their distribution to Kansas, where Agnew lives, and “if I’m thinking big picture, dreaming,” even putting a tasting room out there too, Teeple said.
The tasting room comes amid a miniature boom in business openings in Enumclaw’s downtown corridor. Griffin Brewing’s Pilot House tasting room also opened up in the last few weeks two blocks up Cole Street, practically next door to the soon-to-open Roaring Underground cocktail bar.
“I think (Enumclaw is) just becoming a great destination town for people to come out and spend an afternoon,” Teeple said. “It’s not just the beer, the wine and the spirits. There’s other great things about this community that I enjoy living here.”