Copperworks Releases Salmon-Safe Certified Whiskey

Seattle-based Copperworks Distilling Co.’s Whiskey Release 039 is the nation’s first American single malt whiskey made with Salmon-Safe ingredients, according to the organization founded by river protection organization Pacific Rivers. Salmon-Safe works to inspire land management practices that protect water quality and wildlife habitat. Salmon-Safe’s peer reviewed certification standards focus on reducing watershed impacts from farm operations.

Salmon-Safe is a certification that farmers, vineyards, campuses, and other lands can qualify for if they meet rigorous conservation requirements including enhancing habitat for wildlife, implementing biological and cultural controls for pests and phasing out pesticides harmful to fish and wildlife, restoring stream habitat, and implementing practices to promote soil health and prevent runoff from fields.

For farms near salmon habitat, Salmon-Safe Certification indicates that the farm utilizes practices that protect the stream, water quality, biodiversity, and overall health of the land. Those protections, in turn, protect salmon living in those streams. 

In the case of distilleries: when a farm grows barley on a field certified as Salmon-Safe and a distiller uses that barley to produce their whiskey, the distiller can classify the whiskey as Salmon-Safe.

In Walla Walla, Salmon-Safe certified farmland produces barley and wheat thanks to the work of Mainstem Malt, a company that recruits landowners to adopt the certification so that it can provide single varieties of Salmon-Safe grains, from single family-farms, to breweries and distilleries. The company worked with H.T. Rea Farm to grow the Genie malt used in Copperworks’ American SIngle Malt Whiskey Release 039. As part of its certification, the farm places buffers around tributaries—which connect to the Columbia River—restricts hazardous chemicals and pesticides, adopts minimum tilling practices, and has removed in-stream crossings to control erosion.

“The Genie malt in this whiskey is really a place-based experiment,” said Mainstem Malt founder, Phil Neumann. “Not only do we get to taste the ‘terroir’ of dry-farmed grain from Walla Walla, we know that this grain comes from a farm that intentionally protects the land and water downstream through its commitment to Salmon-Safe farming practices. I’ll drink to that!”

“Business practices that support environmental protection and promote strong communities are a fundamental part of our business philosophy. We have always focused on partnering with small farmers and using and promoting locally-grown malts,” said Copperworks Distilling Co. co-founder and president Jason Parker in a press release. “Producing our Salmon-Safe certified whiskey was no different than producing our other whiskeys. The brewing, distilling, and barrel-aging processes are the same—the difference here is in using the Salmon-Safe certified barely. This validates our initial theory that great whiskey can be produced using environmentally sound farming practices without affecting the price or quality of the product.”

Since its inception, Copperworks has been committed to minimizing water usage, energy consumption, and waste production throughout its operations.

Other examples of Copperworks’ sustainable business practices include:

Copperworks’ copper stills are heated by energy produced from a sustainable, non-fossil fuel source called “biomass” (essentially clean waste wood) which is renewable and doesn’t add new carbon to the atmosphere.

To minimize water usage in Copperworks’ distilling process, Copperworks installed a 500-gallon cooling tower on top of our waterfront location. The tower enables Copperworks to re-circulate and re-use the same 500 gallons of water to produce each batch of spirits in a continuous loop—dramatically reducing the amount of water required by our distilling processes.

“We’re not alone in taking action to protect water quality and wildlife habitat in tributaries across Puget Sound. There are many farms, vineyards, wineries, breweries, golf courses, and other projects that are Salmon-Safe certified and we hope that number continues to grow,” said Copperworks Distilling Co. co-owner and vice president, Jeff Kanof. “We’re hopeful that our Salmon-Safe certified whiskey will raise awareness in the distilling community and beyond that there is an opportunity to produce great whiskey while protecting and improving the environment.”

“Plus, our latest release demonstrates that great whiskey can be produced using environmentally sound farming practices without affecting the price or quality of the product,” said Parker.

To learn more about Copperworks’ sustainability priorities, please visit:

At just 2,103 bottles, Release 039 is highly limited. The distillery has plans to continue experimenting with this single variety grain so that drinkers can explore, in vertical sets, how the malt’s flavor changes depending on weather conditions and other factors, year over year. 

750ml bottles of Copperworks Release 039 can be purchased online at or at the distillery, which is located at 1250 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA.

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