the spirit of washington island

Washington Island, Wisconsin is at the heart and soul of everything produced by Death’s Door Spirits. This 22 square mile island hosts 700 year-round residents and has a school, a rec center, a medical clinic, a downtown strip with bars and a grocery, churches, a bank and a gas station. What Washington Island also has is miles of beautiful uninterrupted shoreline, protected coves and inlets, and acres upon acres of open land with rolling hills and hardwood stands.

Washington Island was once known for its potato farming. Washington Island “spuds” made their way around the world for their quality and flavor. However, in the early 1970’s, vertical integration in the potato industry left Washington Island without contracts to grow its crops. Without customers, island farmers stopped planting and instead switched to other jobs that were either more tourism-based, or moved off the island to find a livelihood elsewhere.

Fast forward to 2005, a small group of like-minded people began exploring reinvigorating farming on Washington Island. Armed with enough seed to plant 5 acres and enough know-how to get it done — brothers Tom and Ken Koyen began growing wheat on the island. What started as wheat to use as flour at the Washington Island Hotel has grown into a select specialty grain for use in Capital Brewery’s Island Wheat Ale and all of Death’s Door Spirits products.

Since 2005, Death’s Door Spirits and Capital Brewery have supported the farmers’ efforts on Washington Island to expand the acreage of hard red winter wheat from five (5) to 1,200.


  • What's with the name Death's Door Spirits?
    • “Death’s Door” takes its name of the body of water between Door County peninsula and Washington Island from which we get hard red winter wheat to make our vodka, gin and white whisky. Potowatami and Winnebego tribesmen originally named the waterway, while the French called it Port de Morts when trading in the area to ward off other traders.

  • Where do I buy a bottle?
    • Click here to locate a retailer in your area that carries Death’s Door Spirits. If your item is not carried by your favored retailer and you see that we’re in your state elsewhere, tell the store manager to contact the distributor in your state from our list here.

      If we’re not distributed in your state, shoot us an email and let us know.

  • What's the deal with the “1% for the Great Lakes” on the bottles?
    • Death’s Door Spirits is committed to donating 1% of their annual revenue to Great Lakes causes. Click here to learn more about our efforts in this area.

  • Who designed your bottles?
    • Grip Design based in Chicago designed our bottles which have been featured in HOW and Print magazines and is a finalist for Clear Choice Awards, the highest honor for glass packaging.