A Snohomish couple who started Skip Rock Distillers to make vodka ends up making a liqueur that is considered the best in the country.

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Skip Rock Distillers liqueurs get raved about among locals but are rarely known outside Snohomish. Now, the secret is out.

The raspberry liqueur made in the city of Snohomish was anointed the best in America Wednesday after taking “Best in Class” at the 11th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits Awards in Baltimore, one of the highest honors in the craft distilling industry.

 A four-judge panel from the American Distilling Institute singled out the raspberry liqueur in a blind taste-test. It was a pleasant surprise for Ryan and Julie Hembree, who started this small distillery to make potato vodka, rye and rum as their showcase spirits. The raspberry liqueur was a secondary product that was added because “they had leftover fruit” they needed to get rid of, Ryan said.

Most fruit liqueurs tend to be cloying or too sweet, but Ryan Hembree wanted to retain some of the tartness to give “a real raspberry bite to it.” While the liqueur has been in the Skip Rock portfolio for four years, he said they tweaked the recipe five months ago with more berries (from Samson Estates in Whatcom County) and made it higher proof.

(Note: Some QFC or Total Wine stores might still be carrying the old raspberry liqueur release. The bottle that won the blind taste-test should look like the picture above.)