Tucked away in the Kent Valley, along the Green River, lies the Lazy River Farm, a lush, 6-acre orchard that yields fruit, nuts and herbs used by Sidetrack Distillery to make specialty spirits. Larry and Linda Person purchased the farm 20 years ago. They planted berries and had a U-pick business as a weekend hobby, but in 2010, after leaving the construction industry, they decided to try their hand at making liqueurs. Four years later, that hobby is a satisfying full-time job for the couple and their nephew, David O’Neal.
Liqueurs and Unique Specialty Spirits
Offering a variety of exceptional, award-winning liqueurs and spirits, the estate distillery uses all natural fruits and produce, almost exclusively grown on the farm. With a focus on sustainability and taste, the trio has created handcrafted world-class spirits, including fruit-forward liqueurs — blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, cassis made with black currants — and eau de vie, a delicate fruit brandy. They also make two specialty spirits — Bête (pronounced bet), distilled from sugar beets, and Nocino, an Italian-inspired spirit made from hand-picked green walnuts. Imagine pumpkin pie in a glass!
The family started with strawberry, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry liqueurs, experimenting with other flavors over the years. Bête was a happy accident. They originally made it to be a base spirit, but it had so much of its own flavor they decided to let it stand alone. Their latest addition is lemon verbena, Linda’s favorite, which will be debuting this summer.
“When you find that flavor you like, you hope everyone else likes it, too!” Linda says.
Larry favors the raspberry liqueur, which tastes like freshly picked berries. O’Neal prefers the cassis and the other liqueurs because they are fruit-forward and not too sweet or syrupy. These deliciously light beverages are the perfect aperitif or after-dinner cordial. They can also be mixed in cocktails, served over ice cream or used in recipes.
“That’s why we don’t make it overly sweet, so you can sip it,” O’Neal explains.
Down on the Farm
Their cozy tasting room is decorated with repurposed objects in a rustic, elegant style. Observant guests will see a recycled ladder suspended from the ceiling, old nail heads adorning a display shelf and African head rests forming the base of a bar stool. During a tasting, guests can sample the different flavors and learn the difference between liqueurs and brandy. Private tastings are also available on request.
“We’re not as pretentious as the wine people,” Larry jokes.
In addition to the tasting room and distillery, the Lazy River Farm will play host to local events upon the completion of an outdoor venue the trio is constructing. Flanked by a beautiful garden, a hand-built barn will serve as a venue for weddings, graduation parties, anniversaries and other celebrations. The venue will be available for bookings soon.
Local and Sustainable
One notable characteristic of Sidetrack Distillery is that the owners use as many local, organic products as they can. When necessary, they’ll get products from other farms, like the walnuts. Until more of their walnut trees mature, the farm doesn’t produce enough to meet demand so they source from Eastern Washington.
“We support local farms. We don’t go outside of Washington state,” Linda says.
They also are recycling experts, reusing everything they can, including using mashed berries as fertilizer.
“We’ve always been recyclers,” Linda says. “We don’t like to waste.”
“Our whole mantra is bringing it from farm to bottle,” adds Larry. “We know what’s in every bottle.”
Good to Know
27010 78th Ave. S., Kent
Free tastings are 11am-5pm Saturdays. Private tastings by appointment.
Sidetrack Distillery’s products are available at grocery stores, wine bars and restaurants throughout the area. For a complete list of where to find their liqueurs and specialty spirits, and for more information, learn more about…