jason parker

Fabulous People: Jason Parker

Jason Parker is the co-founder and president of Copperworks Distilling Company, a craft distillery, tasting room and gift shop on the waterfront in Downtown Seattle. Copperworks is known for its small-batch American Single Malt Whiskey, gins and vodka, all made from malted barley. Learn about Jason Parker…

Hometown: Bowling Green, KY

First job: I was a paperboy when I was 11 years old. I’d always bring a paper to Nat’s Outdoor Sports (a local outdoor gear shop) and each time I’d tell the owner, Nat, that I wanted to work for him. A few years later, he hired me to assemble tricycles for Christmas. I ended up working for Nat for six years; he kept trying to fire me, but I just kept coming back! That was my first experience working for a small business.

Favorite ways to spend your free time in WA: Climbing, hiking, kayaking. Thanks to my Kentucky roots, I also enjoy playing the mandolin in a Bluegrass music group.

Your biggest accomplishment and why: Opening a distillery. I’ve always wanted to impact change in my community, and now I really can. From social change to conservation efforts and donations to various local charities, the distillery makes that possible.

The biggest obstacle you overcame: Finding enough money to make this happen! Who knew distilleries were so expensive?

Someone who inspires you and why: Charles Finkel, founder of Pike Brewing Company, is at the top of the list. I was the first brewer at Pike and got to know Charles really well. He always had this mentality of “let’s work together and grow” as opposed to assuming that the status quo was the best we could do. He taught me to think outside the box and realize that there’s no reason you can’t do it just because it hasn’t been done before.  

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Don’t give up. I know it sounds obvious or silly, but there are so many times when you think “this is too difficult, I could go back to a stable job, take the cash, have my weekends free.” But then, nothing would be accomplished. Kent Fleischmann of Dry Fly Distilling said this to me when I decided to open a distillery, and I didn’t understand at the time just how serious he was.

And to anyone wanting to open a distillery in particular: go deep, not broad. Don’t get hung up on tradition. You may have to invent your own product and process. Go deep.

Favorite quote: “It’s never too late to fail.” This is my mantra to remember to never get too comfortable.

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I blather so much that people seem to know so much about me; I’m not sure if I have any surprises left!

What makes someone fabulous: When I think of fabulous qualities, I think of someone with the right combination of sensitivity and emotional intelligence. Someone who is smart but humble, engaging and adventurous. Someone with many things to offer and a true passion for what they’re doing.

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