The Story Behind Heritage Distilling Company, Inc.

DEF: Her-it-age (noun)

  1. Anything that has been transmitted from the past or handed down by tradition.
  2. Something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth; a national heritage of honor, pride and courage.
  3. Something reserved for a particular person or group or the outcome of an action.
  4. Evidence of the past.

Years in the planning, we are now proud to share our heritage with spirits enthusiasts.

Each of our product lines and services were developed with a particular story in mind, because “Every Spirit has a Story”™. Some are rooted in the history and heritage of our company founders, while others are centered on the collective heritage and history we all long to create and share.
Whether you are getting ready to enjoy our premium spirits, or you are joining us at the distillery for our exclusive and customized “Your Whiskey, Your Way™” programs (Cask Club™* and My Batch™*) we are confident you will find the story behind your spirit.

About Heritage Distilling Company, Inc.™
Heritage Distilling Company, Inc.™ (known by locals, friends and fellow spirits enthusiasts as “HDC™”) is a Washington State Craft Distillery. We are majority owned by women and family operated.

As a Craft Distillery we manage the entire process of making our spirits by hand – from identifying and working directly with the farmers growing our grains, to ensuring the purity of our water source, to milling the grain, making our own mash and wort and running our own custom made stills – we strive to maintain the best of the “Field to Flask”™ Imageethos. In this way you can be assured the hand-crafted, small batch spirits we produce meet the highest standards.

We pour a little of our heart into every hand crafted, small batch of spirits we make. Learn more about HDC™ and the different product lines of spirits and patent-pending programs in our “Story behind the spirits“.

You can also download, view and share our HDC Overview Brochure.

About Our Founders

ImageJennifer Stiefel – Founder and President of HDC™ – Jennifer is in charge of Customer Experience and all aspects of the business that are focused on customer interaction at HDC™. Whether it is the look and feel of the distillery, our unique tasting room, our bottles and logos, or the layout of the curriculum for our “Cask Club”™ and “My Batch”™ programs, she is responsible for how the customer feels about our products and services. In addition, she works with event coordinators to ensure a unique experience when groups rent out our custom distillery space for private events.

Jennifer was born in Aberdeen, WA and spent much of her life in Alaska and Everett, WA, where she learned the value of hard work at an early age. Jennifer learned to master the fork-lift at age 10 in the family manufacturing business. By age 12 she often won bets with professional delivery drivers on who could load and unload a straight-truck the fastest. With her winnings she put herself through school at the University of Idaho, where she received her Bachelors in Education. While there she was a proud member of the Alpha Phi International Women’s Fraternity, where she served as Rush Chairman.

After graduating from college Jennifer married her high-school sweetheart, Justin (see below), and together they moved to Washington, DC, where she began working for the United States Senate Appropriations Committee. Wanting to return to her roots in education she earned her Masters from Central Michigan University and taught for several years. She uses the skills she learned in D.C. (what one U.S. Senator called 68 square miles of “reason-free zone”) and her expertise as an educator to make sure visitors to the distillery come away with a solid understanding of the unique aspects of HDC™.

If you catch Jennifer alone for a moment she will quietly tell you with a smile on her face, “Don’t tell my girlfriends, but I’ve liked whiskey for a while now.” But to her surprise, she’s found out that more and more of her girlfriends have quietly joined the “spirits revolution” as they move away from wine towards whiskey, gin and vodka. As she likes to say, “Whiskey ‘aint just for grandpa anymore.”

Together with her husband, Justin, they are trying to do something that has become difficult these days – namely, operating a small business in the U.S. focused on local manufacturing and creating manufacturing-based jobs (can we get an “Amen” from the other small business owners in the room).

If you are lucky enough to sneak up on her in the distillery (she has three small kids, so the mommy intuition is quite strong) you may find her teaching one of her three kids (ages 9, 6 and 4) how to drive a forklift, because college is getting awfully expensive these days.

Justin Stiefel – Founder, CEO and Head Distiller – Justin is responsible for the technical layout and design of HDC™, the design of the equipment and its operations. He works on recipes and efficiencies for insuring the ability to track production from “Field to Flask”™. In addition, Justin oversees the legal and regulatory aspects of the company. He includes among his life-long friends some of the single largest family-owned grain growers and co-op managers in the state.

Born in Renton, WA, Justin spent much of his young life in Spokane, WA near Greenbluff. He remembers when season lift tickets to Mt. Spokane were just $49 for students, and when Ken Griffey, Jr. was a rookie (anyone else remember Skippy Dumpster Delegato on 92.9 KZZU, the ZOO?). Living on a small working family farm at the base of Mt. Spokane he started earning money bucking bales of hay in the 7th grade (they grew ‘em tough back then) and in the strawberry fields and apple orchards of Greenbluff.

After moving to Alaska he attend the University of Idaho, where he earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Justin will tell you his love for distillation started in 7th grade science class as he learned how to ferment and distill ultra-small bench-top batches of what would become denatured alcohol (because the science teacher said so; remember kids, “methanol will make you go blind before it kills you”).

Later in college he developed an “affinity for scotch and whiskey” (responsibly, of course) as he learned the intricate planning and processes associated with “distillation” as part of his engineering curriculum (don’t ask him how many batches he made before opening the doors of HDC™, because he won’t tell you). His Sigma Chi fraternity brothers will tell you he always had a cask of something or other brewing in his room (In Hoc Signo Vinces).

After college he married his high school sweetheart, Jennifer (see above), and together they moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked in the United States Senate full time while going to law school at night full time. He graduated near the top of his class, despite his heavy work and school loads. Just for fun he also took courses at the National Defense University and the U.S. Naval War College in strategy and decision making. While working in the United States Senate he was appointed Chief of Staff to the junior senator from Alaska. He was one of the youngest Chiefs of Staff ever appointed in the history of the Senate. He cut his teeth negotiating significant pieces of legislation and learned how to draft legislation from scratch (including how to interpret statutory and regulatory text and their interpretations based on standard Cannons of U.S Law – good grief).

Eager to get back to the west coast, (and after spending as much time as possible at the then-newly reopened George Washington’s Distillery and Grist Mill at Mt. Vernon, Virginia), he and Jennifer (and their three kids) made their way back to western Washington shortly after the laws on licensing and operating distilleries in Washington were approved.

Justin’s friends will tell you he is among the most generous and kind-hearted of individuals you will meet. His enemies will tell you…well, we can’t find any, because life is too short for anyone to make enemies.

Justin remains active in the practice of law as a licensed attorney in Alaska and Washington, D.C., and he is soon to be sworn in as a member of the Washington State Bar.

ImageBoth Jennifer and Justin and the rest of the team at HDC™ invite you to come in and experience their passion for hand-crafted spirits in their one-of-a-kind destination distillery.