With more craft distilleries than any other state, it’s expected that Washington distillers would also be the most forward-thinking with regard to their trade. Nowhere is that spirit more true that Gig Harbor-based Heritage Distilling Company, where there’s innovation behind the equipment, the process, the product and even the packaging. For two years running (2014 and 2015), the gamble has paid off in the form of medals from the American Distilling Institute, making Heritage the most decorated distillery in the nation.

To dig into what makes Heritage so innovative, you’d have to start at the equipment that produces the spirits. They were the first distillery in the United States to ship equipment from Italy, installing an Italian-made still (named Nonna) in 2012. The custom-designed still arrived via the Panama Canal and is still in use almost every day, churning out the liquors that keep the accolades flowing.

Beyond the tools of the trade, the products are what set Heritage apart from other craft distilleries. Their naturally flavored vodkas take their colors from the actual fruits and plants with which they are distilled and the BSB Brown Sugar Bourbon’s signature brown-sugar-and-cinnamon flavor is already quenching thirst across the country.

The process is unique in the United States, in that Heritage is the first and only craft distillery to offer people the chance to participate in making an actual batch of distilled spirits. Through their My Batch program, once a month, customers have the opportunity to come to the tasting room, enjoy a class on the finer points of the spirits industry and get up close and personal with the stills during a three-hour, hands-on educational experience.

Finally, the bottles that hold these delectable drams have undergone a face-lift, swapping out the standard bottles you see on shelves everywhere with sculpted glass pieces that make each bottle like a work of art.

You can find bottles or tours at Heritage Distilling Co.’s distillery location, or just the spirits at their waterfront location in Gig Harbor. Total Wine and More shops around the country carry the distillery’s Dual Barrel Collection Bourbon and Rye.