Copperworks Distilling Co., which makes single malt, gin and vodka, has won best craft distillery in America.

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Two Seattle brewers who started out making pale ales have won one of the top honors in the spirits industry, the title of best craft distillery in America.

The American Distilling Institute has anointed Copperworks Distilling Co. the Distillery of the Year, praising not just the quality of their whiskeys but also a “well-conceived” business operation that it calls “exemplary.”

“This is a model for how you want to run a distillery,” said ADI spokesman Andrew Faulkner.

“We are still in kind of a shock but extremely happy,” co founder Jason Parker said of the honor.  “It makes me very proud.”

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In 2013, Parker, the former brewer at Pike Place and Redhook, teamed up with homebrewer Micah Nutt to open Copperworks by the waterfront, near Pike Place Market. Instead of focusing on bourbon, as most whiskey startups do (Parker was convinced Kentucky had a head start with decades of experience in that realm), Copperworks was among the first distilleries to focus instead on single malts. They also used their leftover whiskey barrels to age gins, which have won them several awards.

On the Distillery of the Year award, judges also praised their community service to the local distilling scene and to the community at large, pointing out how well run and educational their distillery tours and tastings are.