The First Tribal-Owned Distillery in the U.S. Is About to Open
How the Chehalis Tribe in Washington state overturned a racist 1834 law
Washington state’s Chehalis tribe just opened Heritage Distilling at Talking Cedar, the first tribal-owned distillery in the U.S. and the first distillery allowed on Native American land since 1834.
Why did it take so long? Blame the Indian Trade And Intercourse Act signed by President Andrew Jackson in 1834 that banned distilleries on tribal lands.
But the Chehalis tribe had previously run into — and successfully negotiated — issues selling everything from gasoline to cigarettes on their land, along with issues regarding taxation of their casinos. So no surprise that a long and successful lobbying mission by the tribe led to widespread bipartisan support for a repeal of the law, which happened in 2018 — allowing 574 Native American tribes the the right to distill liquor on their lands.
Based 75 miles south of Seattle, the $25 million Talking Cedar restaurant, brewery and liquor distillery will produce 1.8 million gallons per year of 80-proof spirits, including bourbon, vodka and gin, according to Forbes (an intriguing “Brown Sugar Bourbon” is one of the offerings, as is a plan for customers to potentially make their own spirits). For now, the distillery is producing hand sanitizer, though the first spirits should be ready by September.
Upcoming plans include a Tribal Beverage Network to help other tribes build out their own liquor and beer products, along with a Cask Club that allows high rollers at the nearby Lucky Eagle casino to house their favorite spirit in personalized 10-liter barrels.
View this post on Instagram
"Heritage is honored to partner with the Chehalis Tribe in this historic endeavor." Justin Stiefel, CEO & Co-Founder of Heritage Distilling Co. Talking Cedar is officially open to the public. Heritage Distilling at Talking Cedar is a historic enterprise – it is the first tribally owned distillery in the U.S. and the first distillery allowed in Indian country since 1834, thanks to the repeal of an Andrew Jackson-era statute that prohibited such operations on Indian lands. The Chehalis Indian Tribe and HDC joined forces to successfully lobbied Congress in 2018 to repeal the ban on distilleries in Indian country. The resulting Talking Cedar facility includes a large scale Heritage Distilling distillery, tasting room, retail operations, the distillery’s patented Cask Club, and its unique and patent-pending hands-on program called My Batch, where customers will be involved in the making of their own spirits in the distillery under the guidance of Heritage distillers. The other side of the facility includes Talking Cedar Brewing, creating craft brews on-site. We can't wait for you to visit! Talking Cedar, 19770 Sargent Rd SW, Rochester, WA 98579
Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.
The Secret to Great Cocktails? Find Out in The Spill.
Suggested for you